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IWew  Korft 




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Copyright  1910 

Set  up  and  electrotyped.    Published  November,  1910 


The  subject  of  imposture  is  always  an  interest- 
ing one,  and  impostors  in  one  shape  or  another  are 
likely  to  flourish  as  long  as  human  nature  remains 
what  it  is,  and  society  shows  itself  ready  to  be 
gulled.  The  histories  of  famous  cases  of  im- 
posture in  this  book  have  been  grouped  together  to 
show  that  the  art  has  been  practised  in  many  forms 
— impersonators,  pretenders,  swindlers,  and  hum- 
bugs of  all  kinds;  those  who  have  masqueraded  in 
order  to  acquire  wealth,  position,  or  fame,  and 
those  who  have  done  so  merely  for  the  love  of  the 
art.  So  numerous  are  instances,  indeed,  that  the 
book  cannot  profess  to  exhaust  a  theme  which 
might  easily  fill  a  dozen  volumes;  its  purpose  is 
simply  to  collect  and  record  a  number  of  the  best 
known  instances.  The  author,  nevertheless,  whose 
largest  experience  has  lain  in  the  field  of  fiction, 
has  aimed  at  dealing  with  his  material  as  with  the 
material  for  a  novel,  except  that  all  the  facts  given 
are  real  and  authentic.  He  has  made  no  attempt 
to  treat  the  subject  ethically;  yet  from  a  study  of 
these  impostors,  the  objects  they  had  in  view,  the 
means  they  adopted,  the  risks  they  ran,  and  the 
punishments  which  attended  exposure,  any  reader 
can  draw  his  own  conclusions. 




Impostors  of  royalty  are  placed  first  on  account 
of  the  fascinating  glamour  of  the  throne  which  has 
allured  so  many  to  the  attempt.  Perkin  Warbeck 
began  a  life  of  royal  imposture  at  the  age  of  seven- 
teen and  yet  got  an  army  round  him  and  dared  to 
make  war  on  Harry  Hotspur  before  ending  his 
short  and  stormy  life  on  the  gallows.  With  a 
crown  for  stake,  it  is  not  surprising  that  men  have 
been  found  willing  to  run  even  such  risks  as  those 
taken  by  the  impostors  of  Sebastian  of  Portugal 
and  Louis  XVII  of  France.  That  imposture, 
even  if  unsuccessful,  may  be  very  difficult  to  detect, 
is  shown  in  the  cases  of  Princess  Olive  and  Cag- 
liostro,  and  in  those  of  Hannah  Snell,  Mary 
East,  and  the  many  women  who  in  military  and 
naval,  as  well  as  in  civil,  life  assumed  and  main- 
tained even  in  the  din  of  battle  the  simulation  of 

One  of  the  most  extraordinary  and  notorious  im- 
postures ever  known  was  that  of  Arthur  Orton,  the 
Tichborne  Claimant,  whose  ultimate  exposure  ne- 
cessitated the  employment,  at  great  public  expense 
of  time  and  money,  of  the  best  judicial  and  forensic 
wits  in  a  legal  process  of  unprecedented  length. 

The  belief  in  witches,  though  not  extinct  in  our 
country  even  to-day,  affords  examples  of  the  con- 
verse of  imposture,  for  in  the  majority  of  cases  it 
was  the  superstitions  of  society  which  attributed 
powers  of  evil  to  innocent  persons  whose  subse- 


quent  mock-trials  and  butchery  made  a  public  holi- 
day for  their  so-called  judges. 

The  long-continued  doubt  as  to  the  true  sex  of 
the  Chevalier  D'Eon  shows  how  a  belief,  no  mat- 
ter how  groundless,  may  persist.  Many  cases  of 
recent  years  may  also  be  called  in  witness  as  to  the 
initial  credulity  of  the  public,  and  to  show  how  ob- 
stinacy maintains  a  belief  so  begun.  The  Hum- 
bert case — too  fresh  in  the  public  memory  to  de- 
mand treatment  here — the  Lemoine  case,  and  the 
long  roll  of  other  fraudulent  efforts  to  turn  the 
credulity  of  others  to  private  gain,  show  how  wide- 
spread is  the  criminal  net,  and  how  daring  and  per- 
severing are  its  manipulators. 

The  portion  of  the  book  which  deals  with  the 
tradition  of  the  "Bisley  Boy"  has  had,  as  it  de- 
manded, more  full  and  detailed  treatment  than  any 
other  one  subject  in  the  volume.  Needless  to  say, 
the  author  was  at  first  glance  inclined  to  put  the 
whole  story  aside  as  almost  unworthy  of  serious  at- 
tention, or  as  one  of  those  fanciful  matters  which 
imagination  has  elaborated  out  of  the  records  of  the 
past.  The  work  which  he  had  undertaken  had, 
however,  to  be  done,  and  almost  from  the  very  start 
of  earnest  enquiry  it  became  manifest  that  here  was 
a  subject  which  could  not  be  altogether  put  aside 
or  made  light  of.  There  were  too  many  circum- 
stances— matters  of  exact  record,  striking  in  them- 
selves and  full  of  some  strange  mystery,  all  point- 



ing  to  a  conclusion  which  one  almost  feared  to 
grasp  as  a  possibility — to  allow  the  question  to  be 
relegated  to  the  region  of  accepted  myth.     A  little 
preliminary  work  amongst  books  and  maps  seemed 
to  indicate  that  so  far  from  the  matter,  vague  and 
inchoate  as  it  was,  being  chimerical,  it  was  one  for 
the  most  patient  examination.     It  looked,  indeed, 
as  if  those  concerned  in  making  public  the  local 
tradition,  which  had  been  buried  or  kept  in  hiding 
somewhere  for  three  centuries,  were  on  the  verge 
of  a  discovery  of  more  than  national  importance. 
Accordingly,   the  author,  with  the  aid  of  some 
friends  at  Bisley  and  its  neighbourhood,  went  over 
the  ground,  and,  using  his  eyes  and  ears,  came  to 
his  own  conclusions.     Further  study  being  thus  ne- 
cessitated, the  subject  seemed  to  open  out  in  a  nat- 
ural way.     One  after  another  the  initial  difficulties 
appeared  to  find  their  own  solutions  and  to  vanish ; 
a  more  searching  investigation  of  the  time  and  cir- 
cumstances showed  that  there  was  little  if  any  diffi- 
culty in  the  way  of  the  story  being  true  in  essence 
if  not  in  detail.     Then,  as  point  after  point  arising 
from  others  already  examined,  assisted  the  story, 
probability  began  to  take  the  place  of  possibility; 
until  the  whole  gradually  took  shape  as  a  chain, 
link  resting  in  the  strength  of  link  and  forming  a 
cohesive    whole.     That    this    story    impugns    the 
identity — and  more  than  the  identity — of  Queen 
Elizabeth,  one  of  the  most  famous  and  glorious 
rulers  whom  the  world  has  seen,  and  hints  at  an  ex- 



planation  of  circumstances  in  the  life  of  that  mon- 
arch which  have  long  puzzled  historians,  will  entitle 
it  to  the  most  serious  consideration.  In  short,  if  it 
be  true,  its  investigation  will  tend  to  disclose  the 
greatest  imposture  known  to  history;  and  to  this 
end  no  honest  means  should  be  neglected. 

B.  S. 




A.  Perkin  Warbeck 3 

B.  The  Hidden  King 17 

C.  Stephan  Mali .31 

D.  The  False  Dauphins .36 

E.  Princess  Olive .      .     49 

II.     Practitioners  of  Magic   .      .      .      .......  69 

A.  Paracelsus .      .  71 

B.  Cagliostro 80 

C.  Mesmer 95 

III.     The  Wandering  Jew 107 

IV.     John  Law 123 

V.     Witchcraft  and  Clairvoyance 145 

A.  Witches 147 

B.  Doctor  Dee i55 

C.  La  Voisin 164 

D.  Sir  Edward  Kelley        .      .      .      •      •      .175 

E.  Mother  Damnable 182 

F.  Matthew  Hopkins 190 

VI.     Arthur  Orton  (Tichborne  claimant)       .      .      .   201 

VII.     Women  as  Men 227 

A.  The  Motive  for  Disguise 227 

B.  Hannah  Snell 231 

C.  La  Maupin 235 

D.  Mary  East 241 




VIII.     Hoaxes,  etc 249 

A.  Two  London  Hoaxes 249 

B.  The  Cat  Hoax 255 

C.  The  Military  Review 256 

D.  The  Toil-Gate 256 

E.  The  Marriage  Hoax 257 

F.  Buried  Treasure .      .   258 

G.  Dean  Swift's  Hoax         ......    259 

H.     Hoaxed  Burglars .    260 

I.     Bogus  Sausages .   260 

J.     The  Moon  Hoax 262 

IX.     Chevalier  d'Eon     ............   269 

X.     The  Bisley  Boy      . 283 


Queen  Elizabeth  as  a  Young  Woman     .      .     Frontispiece 


Perkin  Warbeck 4< 

Edward  IV  as  a  Young  Man 12 

Olivia  Serres 50 

Cagliostro 80 

John  Law 124; 

Arthur  Orton 202 

The  Chevalier  D'Eon 270 

The  Duke  of  Richmond 326 

The  Duchess  of  Richmond 33-1 




RICHARD  III  literally  carved  his  way  to 
the  throne  of  England.  It  would  hardly 
be  an  exaggeration  to  say  that  he  waded 
to  it  through  blood.  Amongst  those  who  suffered 
for  his  unscrupulous  ambition  were  George  Duke 
of  Clarence,  his  own  elder  brother,  Edward  Prince 
of  Wales,  who  on  the  death  of  Edward  IV  was 
the  natural  successor  to  the  English  throne,  and 
the  brother  of  the  latter,  Richard  Duke  of  York. 
The  two  last  mentioned  were  the  princes  murdered 
in  the  Tower  by  their  malignant  uncle.  These  three 
murders  placed  Richard  Duke  of  Gloucester  on 
the  throne,  but  at  a  cost  of  blood  as  well  as  of  lesser 
considerations  which  it  is  hard  to  estimate.  Rich- 
ard III  left  behind  him  a  legacy  of  evil  conse- 
quences which  was  far-reaching.  Henry  VII,  who 
succeeded  him,  had  naturally  no  easy  task  in  steer- 
ing through  the  many  family  complications  result- 
ing from  the  long-continued  "Wars  of  the  Roses" ; 
but  Richard's  villany  had  created  a  new  series  of 
complications  on  a  more  ignoble,  if  less  criminal, 



base.  When  Ambition,  which  deals  in  murder  on 
a  wholesale  scale,  is  striving  its  best  to  reap  the 
results  aimed  at,  it  is  at  least  annoying  to  have  the 
road  to  success  littered  with  the  debris  of  lesser  and 
seemingly  unnecessary  crimes.  Fraud  is  socially 
a  lesser  evil  than  murder;  and  after  all — humanly 
speaking — much  more  easily  got  rid  of.  Thrones 
and  even  dynasties  were  in  the  melting  pot  be- 
tween the  reigns  of  Edward  III  and  Henry  VII ; 
so  there  were  quite  sufficient  doubts  and  perplexities 
to  satisfy  the  energies  of  any  aspirant  to  royal 
honours — however  militant  he  might  be.  Henry 
VII's  time  was  so  far  unpropitious  that  he  was  the 
natural  butt  of  all  the  shafts  of  unscrupulous  ad- 
venture. The  first  of  these  came  in  the  person 
of  Lambert  Simnel,  the  son  of  a  baker,  who  in 
1486  set  himself  up  as  Edward  Plantagenet,  Earl 
of  Warwick — then  a  prisoner  in  the  Tower — son 
of  the  murdered  Duke  of  Clarence.  It  was  mani- 
festly a  Yorkist  plot,  as  he  was  supported  by 
Margaret  Duchess  Dowager  of  Burgundy  (sister 
of  Edward  IV)  and  others.  With  the  assistance 
of  the  Lord-Deputy  (the  Earl  of  Kildare)  he  was 
crowned  in  Dublin  as  King  Edward  VI.  The 
pretensions  of  Simnel  were  overthrown  by  the  ex- 
hibition of  the  real  Duke  of  Warwick,  taken  from 
prison  for  the  purpose.  The  attempt  would  have 
been  almost  comic  but  that  the  effects  were  tragic. 
Simnel's  span  of  notoriety  was  only  a  year,  the 
close  of  which  was  attended  with  heavy  slaughter 



of  his  friends  and  mercenaries.  He  himself  faded 
into  the  obscurity  of  the  minor  life  of  the  King's 
household  to  which  he  was  contemptuously  rele- 
gated. In  fact  the  whole  significance  of  the  plot 
was  that  it  was  the  first  of  a  series  of  frauds  con- 
sequent on  the  changes  of  political  parties,  and 
served  as  a  baton  d'essai  for  the  more  serious  im- 
posture of  Perkin  Warbeck  some  five  years  after- 
wards. It  must,  however,  be  borne  in  mind  that 
Simnel  was  a  pretender  on  his  own  account  and  not 
in  any  way  a  "pacemaker"  for  the  later  criminal; 
he  was  in  the  nature  of  an  unconscious  forerunner, 
but  without  any  ostensible  connection.  Simnel 
went  his  way,  leaving,  in  the  words  of  the  kingly 
murderer  his  uncle,  the  world  free  for  his  successor 
in  fraud  "to  bustle  in." 

The  battle  of  Stoke,  near  Newark — the  battle 
which  saw  the  end  of  the  hopes  of  Simnel  and  his 
upholders — was  fought  on  16  June,  1487.  Five 
years  afterwards  Perkin  Warbeck  made  his  ap- 
pearance in  Cork  as  Richard  Plantagenet  Duke  of 
York.  The  following  facts  regarding  him  and  his 
life  previous  to  1492  may  help  to  place  the  reader 
in  a  position  to  understand  other  events  and  to  find 
causes  through  the  natural  gateway  of  effects. 

To  Jehan  Werbecque  (or  Osbeck  as  he  was 
called  in  Perkin's  "confession"),  Controller  of  the 
town  of  Tournay  in  Picardy,  and  his  wife,  nee 
Katherine  de  Faro,  was  born  in  1474,  a  son  chris- 
tened Pierrequin  and  later  known  as  Perkin  War- 


beck.  The  Low  Countries  in  the  fifteenth  century 
were  essentially  manufacturing  and  commercial, 
and,  as  all  countries  were  at  that  period  of  necessity 
military,  growing"  youths  were  thus  in  touch  at  many 
points  with  commerce,  industry  and  war.  Jehan 
Werbecque's  family  was  of  the  better  middle  class, 
as  witness  his  own  position  and  employment;  and 
so  his  son  spent  the  earlier  years  of  his  life  amid 
scenes  and  conditions  conducive  to  ambitious 
dreams.  He  had  an  uncle  John  Stalyn  of  Ghent. 
A  maternal  aunt  was  married  to  Peter  Flamme, 
Receiver  of  Tournay  and  also  Dean  of  the  Guild 
of  Schelde  Boatmen.  A  cousin,  John  Steinbeck, 
was  an  official  of  Antwerp. 

In  the  fifteenth  century  Flanders  was  an 
important  region  in  the  manufacturing  and  com- 
mercial worlds.  It  was  the  centre  of  the  cloth  in- 
dustry; and  the  coming  and  going  of  the  material 
for  the  clothing  of  the  world  made  prosperous  the 
shipmen  not  only  of  its  own  waters  but  those  of 
others.  The  ships  of  the  pre-Tudor  navy  were 
small  affairs  and  of  light  draught  suitable  for  river 
traffic,  and  be  sure  that  the  Schelde  with  its  facility 
of  access  to  the  then  British  port  of  Calais,  to  Lille, 
to  Brussels,  to  Bruges,  to  Tournai,  Ghent,  and 
Antwerp,  was  often  itself  a  highway  to  the  scenes 
of  Continental  and  British  wars. 

About  1483  or  1484,  on  account  of  the  Flemish 
War,  Pierrequin  left  Tournay,  proceeding  to  Ant- 
werp, and  to  Middleburg,  where  he  took  service 


with  a  merchant,  John  Strewe,  he  being  then  a 
young  boy  of  ten  or  twelve.  His  next  move  was 
to  Portugal,  whither  he  went  with  the  wife  of  Sir 
Edward  Brampton,  an  adherent  of  the  House  of 
York.  A  good  deal  of  his  early  life  is  told  in  his 
own  confession  made  whilst  he  was  a  prisoner  in 
the  Tower  about  1497. 

In  Portugal  he  was  for  a  year  in  the  service  of  a 
Knight  named  Peter  Vacz  de  Cogna,  who,  accord- 
ing to  a  statement  in  his  confession,  had  only  one 
eye.  In  the  Confession  he  also  states  in  a  general 
way  that  with  de  Cogna  he  visited  other  countries. 
After  this  he  was  with  a  Breton  merchant,  Pregent 
Meno,  of  whom  he  states  incidentally:  "he  made  me 
learn  English."  Pierrequin  Werbecque  must  have 
been  a  precocious  boy — if  all  his  statements  are 
true — for  when  he  went  to  Ireland  in  1491  with 
Pregent  Meno  he  was  only  seventeen  years  of  age, 
and  there  had  been  already  crowded  into  his  life  a 
fair  amount  of  the  equipment  for  enterprise  in  the 
shape  of  experience,  travel,  languages,  and  so 

It  is  likely  that,  to  some  extent  at  all  events,  the 
imposture  of  Werbecque,  or  Warbeck,  was  forced 
on  him  in  the  first  instance,  and  was  not  a  free  act 
on  his  own  part.  His  suitability  to  the  part  he  was 
about  to  play  was  not  altogether  his  own  doing. 
Nay,  it  is  more  than  possible  that  his  very  blood 
aided  in  the  deception.  Edward  IV  is  described 
as  a  handsome  debonair  young  man,  and  Perkin 


Warbeck  it  is  alleged,  bore  a  marked  likeness  to 
him.  Horace  Walpole  indeed  in  his  Historic 
Doubts  builds  a  good  deal  on  this  in  his  acceptance 
of  his  kingship.  Edward  was  notoriously  a  man  of 
evil  life  in  the  way  of  affairs  of  passion,  and  at  all 
times  the  way  of  ill-doing  has  been  made  easy  for 
a  king.  Any  student  of  the  period  and  of  the  race 
of  Plantagenet  may  easily  accept  it  as  fact  that  the 
trend  of  likelihood  if  not  of  evidence  is  that  Per- 
kin  Warbeck  was  a  natural  son  of  Edward  IV. 
Three  hundred  years  later  the  infamous  British 
Royal  Marriage  Act  made  such  difficulties  or  in- 
conveniences as  beset  a  king  in  the  position  of 
Edward  IV  unnecessary:  but  in  the  fifteenth  cen- 
tury the  usual  way  out  of  such  messes  was  ultimate- 
ly by  the  sword.  Horace  Walpole,  who  was  a 
clever  and  learned  man,  was  satisfied  that  the  per- 
son who  was  known  as  Perkin  Warbeck  was  in 
reality  that  Richard  Duke  of  York  who  was  sup- 
posed to  have  been  murdered  in  the  Tower  in  1483 
by  Sir  James  Tyrrell,  in  furtherance  of  the  am- 
bitious schemes  of  his  uncle.  At  any  rate  the  peo- 
ple in  Cork  in  1491  insisted  on  receiving  Perkin 
as  of  the  House  of  York — at  first  as  a  son  of  the 
murdered  Duke  of  Clarence.  Warbeck  took  oath 
to  the  contrary  before  the  Mayor  of  Cork;  where- 
upon the  populace  averred  that  he  was  a  natural  son 
of  Richard  III.  This,  too,  having  been  denied  by 
the  newcomer,  it  was  stated  that  he  was  the  son  of 
the  murdered  Duke  of  York. 


It  cannot  be  denied  that  the  Irish  people  were  in 
this  matter  as  unstable  as  they  were  swift  in  their 
judgments,  so  that  their  actions  are  really  not  of 
much  account.     Five  years  before  they  had  re- 
ceived  the   adventurer   Lambert    Simnel   as   their 
king,  and  he  had  been  crowned  at  Dublin.     In  any 
case  the  allegations  of  Warbeck's  supporters  did 
not  march  with  established  facts  of  gynecology. 
The  murdered  Duke  of  York  was  born  in  1472, 
and,   as   not   twenty   years   elapsed   between   this 
period  and  Warbeck's  appearance  in  Ireland,  there 
was  not  time  in  the  ordinary  process  of  nature,  for 
father  and  son  to  have  arrived  at  such  a  quality  of 
manhood  that  the  latter  was  able  to  appear  as  full 
grown.     Even  allowing  for  an  unusual  swiftness 
of  growth  common  sense  evidently  rebelled  at  this, 
and  in  1492  Perkin  Warbeck  was  received  in  his 
final   semblance   of   the   Duke   of   York,   himself 
younger  son  of  Edward  IV.     Many  things  were 
possible  at  a  period  when  the  difficulties  of  voyage 
and  travel  made  even  small  distances  insuperable. 
At  the  end  of  the  fifteenth  century  Ireland  was  still 
so  far  removed  from  England  that  even  Warbeck's 
Irish  successes,  emphasised  though  they  were  by 
the  Earls  of  Desmond  and  Kildare  and  a  numer- 
ous body  of  supporters,  were  unknown  in  England 
till  considerably  later.     This  is  not  strange  if  one 
will  consider  that  not  until  centuries  later  was  there 
a  regular  postal  system,  and  that  nearly  two  cen- 
turies later  the  Lord  Chief  Justice  Sir  Matthew 


Hale,  who  was^a  firm  believer  in  witchcraft,  would 
have  condemned  such  a  thing  as  telegraphy  as  an 
invention  of  the  Devil. 

In  the  course  of  a  historical  narrative  like  the 
present  it  must  be  borne  in  mind  (amongst  other 
things)  that  in  the  fifteenth  century,  men  ripened 
more  quickly  than  in  the  less  strenuous  and  more 
luxurious  atmosphere  of  our  own  day.     Especially 
in  the  Tudor  epoch  physical  gifts  counted  for  far 
more  than  is  now  possible;  and  as  early  (and  too 
often  sudden)   death  was  the  general  lot  of  those 
in  high  places,  the  span  of  working  life  was  pro- 
longed rather  by  beginning  early  than  by  finish- 
ing late.     Even  up  to  the  time  of  the  Napoleonic 
Wars,  promotion  was  often  won  with  a  rapidity 
that  would  seem  like  an  ambitious  dream  to  young 
soldiers  of  to-day.     Perkin  Warbeck,  born  in  1474, 
was  nineteen  years  of  age  in  1493,  at  which  time  the 
Earl  of  Kildare  spoke  of  "this  French  lad,"  yet 
even  then  he  was  fighting  King  Henry  VII,  the 
Harry  Richmond  who  had  overthrown  at  Bosworth 
the  great  and  unscrupulous  Richard  III.     It  must 
also  be  remembered  for  a  proper  understanding  of 
his  venture,  that  Perkin  Warbeck  was  strongly  sup- 
ported and  advised  with  great  knowledge  and  sub- 
tlety by  some  very  resolute  and  influential  persons. 
Amongst  these,  in  addition  to  his  Irish  "Cousins" 
Kildare  and  Desmond,  was  Margaret,  Duchess  of 
Burgundy,  sister  of  Edward  IV,  who  helped  the 
young  adventurer  in  his  plot  by  "coaching"  him  up 


in  the  part  which  he  was  to  play,  to  such  an  extent 
that,  according  to  Lord  Bacon,  he  was  familiar 
with  the  features  of  his  alleged  family  and  rela- 
tives and  even  with  the  sort  of  questions  likely  to 
be  asked  in  this  connection.  In  fact  he  was,  in  the- 
atrical parlance,  not  only  properly  equipped  but 
"letter-perfect"  in  his  part.  Contemporary  au- 
thority gives  as  an  additional  cause  for  this  per- 
sonal knowledge,  that  the  original  Jehan  de 
Warbecque  was  a  converted  Jew,  brought  up  in 
England,  of  whom  Edward  IV  was  the  godfather. 
In  any  case  it  may  in  this  age  be  accepted  as  a  fact 
that  there  was  between  Edward  IV  and  Perkin 
Warbeck  so  strong  a  likeness  as  to  suggest  a  prima 
facie  possibility,  if  not  a  probability,  of  paternity. 
Other  possibilities  crowd  in  to  the  support  of  such 
a  guess  till  it  is  likely  to  achieve  the  dimensions  of 
a  belief.  Even  without  any  accuracy  of  historical 
detail  there  is  quite  sufficient  presumption  to  justify 
guess-work  on  general  lines.  It  were  a  compara- 
tively easy  task  to  follow  the  lead  of  Walpole  and 
create  a  new  "historic  doubt"  after  his  pattern,  the 
argument  of  which  would  run  thus: 

After  the  battles  of  Barnet  and  Tewkesbury  in 
1471,  Edward  IV  had  but  little  to  contend  against. 
His  powerful  foes  were  all  either  dead  or  so  ut- 
terly beaten  as  to  be  powerless  for  effective  war. 
The  Lancastrian  hopes  had  disappeared  with  the 
death  of  Henry  VI  in  the  Tower.  Margaret  of 
Anjou  (wife  of  Henry  VI)  defeated  at  Tewkes- 


bury,  was  in  prison.  Warwick  had  been  slain  at 
Barnet,  and  so  far  as  fighting  was  concerned,  King 
Edward  had  a  prolonged  holiday.  It  was  these 
years  of  peace — when  the  coming  and  going  of 
even  a  king  was  unrecorded  with  that  precision 
which  marks  historical  accuracy — that  made  the 
period  antecedent  to  Perkin's  birth.  Perkin  bore 
an  unmistakable  likeness  to  Edward  IV.  Not 
merely  that  resemblance  which  marks  a  family  or 
a  race  but  an  individual  likeness.  Moreover  the 
young  manhood  of  the  two  ran  on  parallel  lines. 
Edward  was  born  in  1442,  and  in  1461,  before  he 
was  nineteen,  won  the  battle  of  Mortimer's  Cross 
which,  with  Towton,  placed  him  on  the  throne. 
Perkin  Warbeck  at  seventeen  made  his  bid  for 
royalty.  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  consider  what 
is  a  manifest  error  in  Perkin's  Confession — that 
he  was  only  nine  years  old,  not  eleven,  at  the  time 
of  the  murder  of  Edward  V.  Nineteen  was  young 
enough  in  all  conscience  to  begin  an  intrigue  for 
a  crown;  but  if  the  Confession  is  to  be  accepted  as 
gospel  this  would  make  him  only  seventeen  at  the 
time  of  his  going  to  Ireland — a  manifest  impos- 
sibility. Any  statement  regarding  one's  own 
birth  is  manifestly  not  to  be  relied  on.  At  best 
such  can  only  be  an  assertion  minus  the  possibility 
of  testing  whence  an  error  might  come.  Regard- 
ing his  parentage,  in  case  it  may  be  alleged  that 
there  is  no  record  of  the  wife  of  Jehan  Warbecque 
having  been  in  England,  it  may  be  allowed  to  re- 



call  a  story  which  Alfred,  Lord  Tennyson  used  to 
say  was  amongst  the  hundred  best  stories.  It  ran 
thus : 

A  noble  at  the  Court  of  Louis  XIV  was 
extremely  like  the  King,  who  on  its  being 
pointed  out  to  him  sent  for  his  double  and 
asked  him: 

"Was  your  mother  ever  at  Court?" 

Bowing  low,  he  replied: 

"No,  sire;  but  my  father  was!" 

Of  course  Perkin  Warbeck's  real  adventures,  in 
the  sense  of  dangers,  began  after  his  claim  to  be 
the  brother  of  Edward  V  was  put  forward. 
Henry  VII  was  not  slow  in  taking  whatever  steps 
might  be  necessary  to  protect  his  crown;  there  had 
been  but  short  shrift  for  Lambert  Simnel,  and 
Perkin  Warbeck  was  a  much  more  dangerous  as- 
pirant. When  Charles  VIII  invited  him  to  Paris, 
after  the  war  with  France  had  broken  out,  Hemy 
besieged  Boulogne  and  made  a  treaty  under  which 
Perkin  Warbeck  was  dismissed  from  France. 
After  making  an  attempt  to  capture  Waterford, 
the  adventurer  transferred  the  scene  of  his  endeav- 
ours from  Ireland  to  Scotland  which  offered  him 
greater  possibilities  for  intrigue  on  account  of  the 
struggles  between  James  IV  and  Henry  VII. 
James,  who  finally  found  it  necessary  to  hasten  his 
departure,  seemed  to  believe  really  in  his  preten- 


sions,  for  he  gave  him  in  marriage  a  kinswoman  of 
his  own,  Catherine  Gordon,  daughter  of  the  Earl 
of  Huntly — who  by  the  way  was  re-married  no 
less  than  three  times  after  Perkin  Warbeck's  death. 
Through  the  influence  of  Henry  VII,  direct  or 
indirect,  Perkin  had  to  leave  Scotland  as  he  had 
been  previously  forced  from  Burgundy  and  the 
Low  Countries.  Country  after  country  having 
been  closed  to  him,  he  made  desperate  efforts  in 
Cornwall,  where  he  captured  St.  Michael's  Mount, 
and  in  Devon,  where  he  laid  siege  to  Exeter.  This 
however  being  raised  by  the  Royal  forces,  he  sought 
sanctuary  in  Beaulieu  in  the  New  Forest  where, 
on  promise  of  his  life,  he  surrendered.  He  was 
sent  to  the  Tower  and  well  treated ;  but  on  attempt- 
ing to  escape  thence  a  year  later,  1499,  he  was 
taken.  He  was  hanged  at  Tyburn  in  the  same 

Pierrequin  Warbecque's  enterprise  was  in  any 
case  a  desperate  one  and  bound  to  end  tragically — 
unless,  of  course,  he  could  succeed  in  establishing 
his  (alleged)  claim  to  the  throne  in  law  and  then 
in  supporting  it  at  great  odds.  The  latter  would 
necessitate  his  vanquishing  two  desperate  fighting 
men  both  of  them  devoid  of  fear  or  scruples. 
— Richard  III  and  Henry  VII.  In  any  case  he 
had  the  Houses  of  Lancaster,  Plantagenet  and 
Tudor  against  him  and  he  fought  with  the  rope 
round  his  neck. 


An  Act  of  Parliament,  1  Richard  III,  Cap.  15, 
made  at  Westminster  on  the  23  Jan.,  1485,  pre- 
cluded all  possibility — even  if  Warbeck  should  have 
satisfied  the  nation  of  his  identity — of  a  legal  claim 
to  the  throne,  for  it  forbade  any  recognition  of  the 
offspring  of  Lady  Elizabeth  Grey  to  whom  Ed- 
ward IV  was  secretly  married,  in  May,  1464,  the 
issue  of  which  marriage  were  Edward  V  and  his 
brother,  Richard.  The  act  is  short  and  is  worth 
reading,  if  only  for  its  quaint  phraseology. 

Cap  XV.  Item  for  certayn  great  causes  and  consideracions 
touchynge  the  suretye  of  the  kynges  noble  persone  as 
of  this  realme,  by  the  advyce  and  assente  of  his  lordes 
spirituall  and  temporal,  and  the  commons  in  this  pres- 
ent parliament  assembled,  and  by  the  auctorite  of  the 
same.  It  is  ordeined  established  and  enacted,  that  all 
letters  patentes,  states  confrymacions  and  actes  of  par- 
lyament  of  anye  castels  seignowries,  maners,  landes, 
teneinentes,  fermes,  fee  fermes,  franchises,  liberties,  or 
other  hereditamentes  made  at  any  tyme  to  Elizabeth 
late  wyfe  of  syr  John  Gray  Knight;  and  now  late  call- 
inge  her  selfe  queene  of  England,  by  what  so  ever  name 
or  names  she  be  called  in  the  same,  shalbe  from  the  fyrst 
day  of  May  last  past  utterly  voyd,  adnulled  and  of  no 
strengthe  nor  effecte  in  the  lawe.  And  that  no  person 
or  persons  bee  charged  to  our  sayde  soveraygne  lord  the 
Kynge,  nor  to  the  sayde  Elyzabeth,  of  or  for  any  is- 
sues, prifites,  or  revenues  of  any  of  the  sayde  seignowries, 
castelles,  maners,  landes,  tenementes,  fermes  or  other 
hereditamentes  nor  for  any  trespas  or  other  intromittynge 
in  the  same,  nor  for  anye  by  suretye  by  persone  or  per- 


sones  to  her  or  to  her  use — made  by  them  before  the 
sayde  fyrst  daie  of  May  last  passed,  but  shalbe  therof 
agaynste  the  sayd  Kynge  and  the  sayde  Elizabeth  clerly 
discharged  and  acquyte  forever."  1 

i  In  the  above  memorandum  no  statement  is  made  regarding  Jane 
Shore,  though  it  may  be  that  she  had  much  to  do  with  Perkin 


THE  personality,  nature  and  life  of  Sebas- 
tian, King  of  Portugal,  lent  themselves  to 
the  strange  structure  of  events  which 
followed  his  strenuous  and  somewhat  eccentric 
and  stormy  life.  He  was  born  in  1554,  and  was  the 
son  of  Prince  John  and  his  wife  Juana,  daughter 
of  the  Emperor  Charles  V.  He  succeeded  his 
grandfather,  John  III,  at  the  age  of  three.  His 
long  minority  aided  the  special  development  of  his 
character.  The  preceptor  appointed  to  rule  his 
youth  was  a  Jesuit,  Luiz-Goncalvoz  de  Camara. 
Not  unnaturally  his  teacher  used  his  position  to 
further  the  religious  aims  and  intrigues  of  his 
strenuous  Order.  Sebastian  was  the  kind  of  youth 
who  is  beloved  by  his  female  relatives — quite  apart 
from  his  being  a  King;  and  naturally  he  was 
treated  by  the  women  in  a  manner  to  further  his 
waywardness.  When  he  was  fourteen  years  old  he 
was  crowned.  From  thence  on  he  insisted  on 
having  his  way  in  everything,  and  grew  into 
a  young  manhood  which  was  of  the  type  beloved 
of  an  adventurous  people.  He  was  thus  described : 
"He  was  a  headstrong  violent  nature,  of  reckless 
courage,  of  boundless  ambition  founded  on  a  deep 



religious  feeling.  At  the  time  of  his  coronation 
he  was  called  'Another  Alexander.'  He  loved 
all  kinds  of  danger,  and  found  a  keen  pleasure  in 
going  out  in  a  tempest  in  a  small  boat  and  in 
actually  running  under  the  guns  of  his  own  forts 
where  his  commands  were  stringent  that  any  vessel 
coming  in  shore  should  be  fired  on.  He  was  a  nota- 
ble horseman  and  could  steer  his  charger  efficiently 
by  the  pressure  of  either  knee — indeed  he  was  of 
such  muscular  vigour  that  he  could,  by  the  mere 
stringency  of  the  pressure  of  his  knees,  make  a 
powerful  horse  tremble  and  sweat.  He  was  a 
great  swordsman,  and  quite  fearless.  'What  is 
fear?'  he  used  to  say.  Restless  by  nature  he 
hardly  knew  what  it  was  to  be  tired." 

And  yet  this  young  man — warrior  as  he  was,  had 
a  feminine  cast  of  face;  his  features  were  symmet- 
rically formed  with  just  sufficient  droop  in  the 
lower  lip  to  give  the  characteristic  'note'  of  Aus- 
trian physiognomy.  His  complexion  was  as  fine 
and  transparent  as  a  girl's ;  his  eyes  were  clear  and 
of  blue;  his  hair  of  reddish  gold.  His  height  was 
medium,  his  figure  fine;  he  was  vigorous  and 
active.  He  had  an  air  of  profound  gravity  and 
stern  enthusiasm.  Altogether  he  was,  even  with- 
out his  Royal  state,  just  such  a  young  man  as  might 
stand  for  the  idol  of  a  young  maid's  dream. 

And  yet  he  did  not  seem  much  of  a  lover.  When, 
in  1576,  he  entered  Spain  to  meet  Philip  II  at 
Guadaloupe  to  ask  the  hand  of  the  Infanta  Isabella 


in  marriage,  he  was  described  as  "cold  as  a  wooer 
as  he  was  ardent  as  a  warrior."  His  eyes  were  so 
set  on  ambition  that  mere  woman's  beauty  did  not 
seem  to  attract  him.  Events — even  that  event, 
the  meeting — fostered  his  ambition.  When  he 
knelt  to  his  host,  the  elder  king  kissed  him  and 
addressed  him  as  "Your  Majesty"  the  first  time 
the  great  title  had  been  used  to  a  Portuguese  king. 
The  effect  must  have  come  but  little  later  for  at 
that  meeting  he  kissed  the  hand  of  the  old  warrior, 
the  Duke  of  Alva,  and  uncovered  to  him.  His 
underlying  pride,  however,  was  shewn  at  the  close 
of  that  very  meeting,  for  he  claimed  equal  rights 
in  formality  with  the  Spanish  king;  and  there  was 
a  danger  that  the  visit  of  ceremony  might  end 
worse  than  it  began.  Neither  king  would  enter 
the  carriage  in  which  they  were  to  proceed  together, 
until  the  host  suggested  that  as  there  were  two 
doors  they  should  enter  at  the  same  time. 

Sebastian's  religious  fervour  and  military  ambi- 
tion became  one  when  he  conceived  the  idea  of 
renewing  the  Crusades ;  he  would  recover  the  Holy 
Land  from  the  dominion  of  the  Paynim  and  be- 
come himself  master  of  Morocco  in  the  doing  of  it. 
With  the  latter  object  in  his  immediate  view,  he 
made  in  1574,  against  the  wise  counsels  of  Queen 
Catherine,  a  sortie  de  reconnaissance  of  the  Afri- 
can coast;  but  without  any  result — except  the 
fixing  of  his  resolution  to  proceed.  In  1578  his 
scheme   was   complete.     He   would   listen   to   no 


warning  or  counsel  on  the  subject  even  from  the 
Pope,  the  Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany,  or  the  Duke 
of  Nassau.  He  seemed  to  foresee  the  realization 
of  his  dreams,  and  would  forego  nothing.  He 
gathered  an  army  of  some  18,000  men  (of  which 
less  than  2,000  were  horsemen)  and  about  a  dozen 
cannon.  The  preparation  was  made  with  great 
splendour — a  sort  of  forerunner  of  the  Great 
Armada.  It  seemed  to  be,  as  in  the  case  of  the 
projected  invasion  of  England  ten  years  later  by 
Spain,  a  case  of  "counting  the  chickens  before  they 
were  hatched." 

Some  indication  of  the  number  of  adventurers 
and  camp  followers  accompanying  the  army  is 
given  by  the  fact  that  the  800  craft  ordained  for 
the  invasion  of  Morocco  carried  in  all  some  24,000 
persons,  inclusive  of  the  fighting  men.  The  para- 
phernalia and  officials  of  victory  comprised  amongst 
many  other  luxuries:  lists  for  jousts,  a  crown  ready 
for  the  new  King  of  Morocco  to  put  on,  and  poets 
with  completed  poems  celebrating  victory. 

At  this  time  Morocco  was  entering  on  the  throes 
of  civil  war.  Muley  Abd-el-Mulek,  the  reigning 
Sultan,  was  opposed  by  his  nephew,  Mohammed, 
and  to  aid  the  latter,  who  promised  to  bring  in 
400  horsemen,  was  the  immediate  object  of  Sebas- 
tian. But  the  fiery  young  King  of  Portugal  had 
undertaken  more  than  he  was  able  to  perform. 
Abd-el-Mulek  opposed  his  18,000  Portuguese  with 
55,000  Moors,   (of  whom  36,000  were  horsemen) 


and  with  three  times  his  number  of  cannon.     The 
young  Crusader's  generalship  was  distinctly  de- 
fective; he  was  a  fine  fighting  man,  but  a  poor 
commander.     Instead  of  attacking  at  once  on  his 
arrival  and  so  putting  the  zeal  of  his  own  troops 
and  the  discouragement  of  the  enemy  to  the  best 
advantage,  he  wasted  nearly  a  week  in  hunting  par- 
ties  and  ineffectual  manoeuvring.     When   finally 
issue  was  joined,  Abd-el-Mulek,  though  he  was 
actually  dying,  surrounded  the  Portuguese  forces 
and   cut   them   to   pieces.     Sebastian,   though   he 
fought  like  a  lion,  and  had  three  horses  killed  under 
him,   was  hopelessly  beaten.     There   was   an  at- 
tendant piece  of  the  grimmest  comedy  on  record. 
The  Sultan  died  during  the  battle,  but  he  was  a 
stern  old  warrior,  and  as  he  fell  back  in  his  litter 
he  put  his  finger  on  his  lip  to  order  with  his  last 
movement  that  his  death  should  be  kept  secret  for 
the  time  being.     The  officer  beside  him  closed  the 
curtains  and  went  on  with  the  fight,  pretending  to 
take  orders  from  the  dead  man  and  to  transmit 
them  to  the  captains. 

The  fate  of  Sebastian  was  sealed  in  that  battle. 
Whether  he  lived  or  died,  he  disappeared  on  5 
August,  1578.  One  story  was  that  after  the 
battle  of  Alca9er-el-Kebir,  his  body  stripped  and 
showing  seven  wounds  was  found  in  a  heap  of  the 
slain;  that  it  was  taken  to  Fez  and  there  buried; 
but  was  afterwards  removed  to  Europe  and  found 
resting  place  in  the  Convent  of  Belen.     Another 


story  was  that  after  a  brilliant  charge  on  his  ene- 
mies he  was  taken  in,  but  having  been  rescued  by 
Lui  de  Brito  he  escaped  unpursued.  Certainly 
no  one  seemed  to  have  seen  the  King  killed,  and  it 
was  strange  that  no  part  of  his  clothing  or  accoutre- 
ments was  ever  found.  These  were  of  great  splen- 
dour, beauty  and  worth,  and  must  have  been  easily 
traceable.  There  was  a  rumour  that  on  the  night 
following  the  battle  some  fugitives,  amongst  whom 
was  one  of  commanding  distinction,  sought  refuge 
at  Arzilla. 

Alcacer-el-Kebir  was  known  as  the  "Battle  of 
the  three  Kings."  All  the  principals  engaged  in 
it  perished.  Sebastian  was  killed  or  disappeared. 
Abd-el-Mulek  died  as  we  have  seen,  and  Moham- 
med was  drowned  in  trying  to  cross  the  river. 

The  dubiety  of  Sebastian's  death  gave  rise  in 
after  years  to  several  impostures. 

The  first  began  six  years  after  Sebastian's  suc- 
cessor— his  uncle,  Cardinal  Henry — was  placed  on 
the  throne.  The  impostor  was  known  as  the  "King 
of  Penamacor."  The  son  of  a  potter  at  Alcobaca, 
he  established  himself  at  Albuquerque,  within  the 
Spanish  borders,  somewhat  to  the  north  of  Badajos, 
and  there  gave  himself  out  as  "a  survivor  of  the 
African  Campaign."  As  usual  the  public  went  a 
little  further  and  said  openly  that  he  was  the  miss- 
ing Don  Sebastian.  At  first  he  denied  the  soft  im- 
peachment, but  later  on  the  temptation  became  too 
great  for  him  and  he  accepted  it  and  set  up  in 


Penamacor,  where  he  became  known  as  the  "King 
of  Penamacor."  He  was  arrested  and  paraded 
through  Lisbon,  bareheaded,  as  if  to  let  the  public 
see  that  he  in  no  way  resembled  the  personality  of 
Sebastian.  He  was  sent  to  the  galleys  for  life. 
But  he  must  have  escaped,  for  later  on  he  appeared 
in  Paris  as  Silvio  Pellico,  Duke  of  Normandy,  and 
was  accepted  as  such  in  many  of  the  salons  in  the 
exclusive  Faubourg  St.  Germain. 

The  second  personator  of  Sebastian  was  one 
Matheus  Alvares,  who  having  failed  to  become  a 
monk,  a  year  later  imitated  the  first  impostor,  and 
in  1585  set  up  a  hermitage  at  Ericeira.  He  bore 
some  resemblance  to  the  late  king  in  build,  and  in 
the  strength  of  this  he  boldly  gave  himself  out  as 
"King  Sebastian"  and  set  out  for  Lisbon.  But  he 
was  arrested  by  the  way  and  entered  as  a  prisoner. 
He  was  tried  and  executed  with  frightful  acces- 
sories to  the  execution. 

The  third  artist  in  this  imposture  appeared  in 
1594.  He  was  a  Spaniard  from  Madrigal  in  Old 
Castile — a  cook,  sixty  years  old  (Sebastian  would 
have  been  just  forty  if  he  had  lived).  When  ar- 
rested he  was  given  but  short  shrift  and  shared  the 
same  ghastly  fate  as  his  predecessor. 

The  fourth,  and  last,  imposture  was  more 
serious.  This  time  the  personator  began  in  Venice 
in  1598,  calling  himself  "Knight  of  the  Cross." 

As  twenty  years  had  now  elapsed  since  the  dis- 
appearance of  Sebastian,  he  would  have  changed 


much  in  appearance,  so  in  one  respect  the  person- 
ator  had  less  to  contend  against.  Moreover  the 
scene  of  endeavour  was  this  time  laid  in  Venice, 
a  place  even  more  widely  removed  in  the  sixteenth 
century  from  Lisbon  by  circumstances  than  by 
geographical  position.  Again  witnesses  who  could 
give  testimony  to  the  individuality  of  the  missing 
King  of  twenty  years  ago  were  few  and  far  be-> 
tween.  But  on  the  other  hand  the  new  impostor 
had  new  difficulties  to  contend  against.  Henry, 
the  Cardinal,  had  only  occupied  the  Portuguese 
throne  two  years,  for  in  1580  Philip  II  of  Spain 
had  united  the  two  crowns,  and  had  held  the  dual 
monarchy  for  eighteen  years.  He  was  a  very  dif- 
ferent antagonist  from  any  one  that  might  be  of 
purely  Portuguese  origin. 

In  the  eyes  of  many  of  the  people — like  all  the 
Latin  races  naturally  superstitious — one  circum- 
stance powerfully  upheld  the  impostor's  claim.  So 
long  ago  as  1587,  Don  John  de  Castro  had  made  a 
seemingly  prophetic  statement  that  Sebastian  was 
alive  and  would  manifest  himself  in  due  time.  His 
utterance  was,  like  most  such  prophecies  of  the  kind, 
"conducive  to  its  own  fulfilment ;"  there  were  many 
— and  some  of  them  powerful — who  were  willing  at 
the  start  to  back  up  any  initiator  of  such  a  claim. 
In  his  time  Sebastian  had  been  used,  so  far  as  it 
was  possible  to  use  a  man  of  his  temperament  and 
position,  by  the  intriguers  of  the  Catholic  Church, 
and  the  present  occasion  lent  itself  to  their  still-ex- 


istent  aims.  Rome  was  very  powerful  four  cen- 
turies ago,  and  its  legions  of  adherents  bound  in 
many  ties,  were  scattered  throughout  the  known 
world.  Be  sure  these  could  and  would  aid  in  any 
movement  or  intrigue  which  could  be  useful  to  the 

"The  Knight  of  the  Cross" — who  insinuated, 
though  he  did  not  state  so,  that  he  was  a  Royal  per- 
son was  arrested  on  the  showing  of  the  Spanish 
Ambassador.  He  was  a  born  liar,  with  all  the 
readiness  which  the  carrying  out  of  such  an  adven- 
ture as  he  had  planned  requires.  Not  only  was  he 
well  posted  in  known  facts,  but  he  seemed  to  be 
actually  proof  against  cross-examination.  The 
story  he  told  was  that  after  the  battle  of  Alcacer-el- 
Kebir  he  with  some  others,  had  sought  temporary 
refuge  in  Arzilla  and  in  trying  to  make  his  way 
from  there  to  the  East  Indies,  he  had  got  to  "Pres- 
ter  John's"  land — the  semi-fabled  Ethiopia  of  those 
days.  From  thence  he  had  been  turned  back,  and 
had,  after  many  adventures  and  much  wandering — 
in  the  course  of  which  he  had  been  bought  and  sold 
a  dozen  times  or  more,  found  his  way,  alone,  to 
Venice.  Amongst  other  statements  he  alleged  that 
Sebastian's  confessor  had  already  recognised  and 
acknowledged  him;  but  he  was  doubtless  ignorant, 
when  he  made  the  statement,  that  Padre  Mauricio, 
Don  Sebastian's  confessor,  fell  with  his  king  in 
1578.  Two  things,  one,  a  positive  inference  and 
the  other  negative,  told  against  him.     He   only 


knew  of  such  matters  as  had  been  made  public  in 
depositions,  and  he  did  not  know  Portuguese.  The 
result  of  his  first  trial  was  that  he  was  sent  to  prison 
for  two  years. 

But  those  two  years  of  prison  improved  his  case 
immensely.  In  that  time  he  learned  the  Portu- 
guese language  and  many  facts  of  history.  One 
of  the  first  to  believe — or  to  allege  belief,  in  his 
story,  Fray  Estevan  de  Sampayo,  a  Dominican 
monk,  was  in  1599,  sent  by  the  Venetian  authori- 
ties to  Portugal  to  obtain  an  accredited  description 
of  the  personal  marks  of  King  Sebastian.  He  re- 
turned within  a  year  with  a  list  of  sixteen  personal 
marks — attested  by  an  Apostolic  notary.  Strange 
to  say  the  prisoner  exhibited  every  one  of  them — a 
complete  agreement  which  in  itself  gave  rise  to  the 
new  suspicion  that  the  list  had  been  made  out  by, 
or  on  behalf  of,  the  prisoner.  The  proof  however 
was  accepted — for  the  time;  and  he  was  released 
on  the  28th  of  July,  1600 — but  with  the  imperative, 
humiliating  proviso  that  he  was  to  quit  Venice 
within  four  and  twenty  hours  under  penalty  of  be- 
ing sent  to  the  galleys.  A  number  of  his  sup- 
porters, who  met  him  before  he  went,  found  that  he 
had  in  reality  no  sort  of  resemblance  to  Sebastian. 
Don  John  de  Castro,  who  was  amongst  them,  said 
that  a  great  change  in  Sebastian  seemed  to  have 
taken  place.  (He  had  prophesied  and  adhered 
to  his  prophecy. )  He  now  described  him  as  a  man 
of  medium  height  and  powerful  frame,  with  hair 


and  beard  of  black  or  dark  brown,  and  said  he  had 
completely  lost  his  beauty.  "What  has  become  of 
my  fairness?"  the  swarthy  ex-prisoner  used  to 
say.  He  had  eyes  of  uncertain  colour,  not  large  but 
sparkling;  high  cheek  bones;  long  nose;  thin  lips 
with  the  "Hapsburg  droop"  in  the  lower  one.  He 
was  short  from  the  waist  up.  ( Sebastian's  doublet 
would  fit  no  other  person.)  His  right  leg  and  arm 
were  longer  than  the  left,  the  legs  being  slightly 
bowed  like  Sebastian's.  He  had  small  feet  with 
extraordinarily  high  insteps;  and  large  hands.  "In 
fine,"  Don  John  summed  up  illogically,  "he  is  the 
self-same  Sebastian — except  for  such  differences 
as  resulted  from  years  and  labours."  Some  other 
particulars  he  added  which  are  in  no  way  helpful  to 
a  conclusion. 

The  Impostor  told  his  friends  that  he  had  in 
1597,  sent  a  messenger  from  Constantinople  to 
Portugal — one  Marco  Tullio  Catizzone — who  had 
never  returned.  Thence  he  had  travelled  to  Rome 
— where,  when  he  was  just  on  the  eve  of  being  pre- 
sented to  the  Holy  Father,  he  was  robbed  of  all  he 
had;  thence  to  Verona  and  so  on  to  Venice.  After 
his  expulsion  from  Venice  he  seems  to  have  found 
his  way  to  Leghorn  and  Florence,  and  thence  on  to 
Naples,  where  he  was  handed  over  to  the  jurisdic- 
tion of  the  Spanish  Viceroy,  the  Count  of  Lemos, 
who  had  visited  him  in  prison,  and  who  well  remem- 
bered King  Sebastian  whom  he  had  seen  when  in 
a  diplomatic  mission.     The  Viceroy  came  to  the 


conclusion  that  he  bore  no  likeness  at  all  to  Sebas- 
tian, that  he  was  ignorant  of  all  save  the  well  known 
historical  facts  that  had  been  published,  and  that  his 
speech  was  of  "corrupt  Portuguese  mingled  with 
tell-tale  phrases  of  Calabrian  dialect."  Thereupon 
he  took  active  steps  against  him.  One  witness  who 
was  produced,  recognized  in  him  the  real  Marco 
Tullio  Catizzone,  and  Count  de  Lemos  sent  for 
his  wife,  mother-in-law  and  brother-in-law,  all  of 
whom  he  had  deceived  and  deserted.  His  wife, 
Donna  Paula  of  Messina,  acknowledged  him;  and 
he  confessed  Ms  crime.  Condemned  to  the  galleys 
for  life,  Marco  Tullio,  out  of  consideration  of  a 
possibility  of  an  error  of  justice,  was  so  far  given 
indulgence  by  the  authorities  that  he  did  not  have  to 
wear  prison  dress  or  labour  at  the  oar.  Many  of 
his  supporters,  who  still  believed  in  him,  tried  to 
mitigate  his  lot  and  treated  him  as  a  companion;  so 
that  the  hulk  at  San  Lucar,  at  the  mouth  of  the 
Guadalquiver  became  a  minor  centre  of  intrigue. 
But  still  he  was  not  content,  and  adventuring 
further,  he  tried  to  get  money  from  the  wife  of 
Medina-Sidonia  then  Governor  of  Andalusia.  He 
was  again  arrested  with  some  of  his  associates.  In- 
criminating documents  were  found  on  him.  He 
was  racked  and  confessed  all.  And  so  in  his  real 
name  and  parentage,  Marco  Tullio,  son  of  Ippolit 
Catizzone  of  Taverna,  and  of  Petronia  Cortes  his 
wife,  and  husband  of  Paula  Gallardetta  was  exe- 
cuted.    He  had,  though  of  liberal  education,  never 


worked  at  any  occupation  or  calling;  but  he  had 
previously  to  his  great  fraud,  personated  other  men 
— amongst  them  Don  Diego  of  Arragon.  On  23rd 
of  September,  1603,  he  was  dragged  on  a  hurdle  to 
the  Square  of  San  Lucar;  his  right  hand  was  cut 
off  and  he  was  hanged.  Five  of  his  companions, 
including  two  priests,  shared  his  fate. 

But  in  a  way  he  and  the  previous  impostors  had 
a  sort  of  posthumous  revenge,  for  Sebastian  had 
now  entered  into  the  region  of  Romantic  Belief. 
He  was,  like  King  Arthur,  the  ideal  and  the  heart 
of  a  great  myth.  He  became  "The  Hidden  King" 
who  would  some  day  return  to  aid  his  nation  in  the 
hour  of  peril — the  destined  Ruler  of  the  Fifth 
Monarchy,  the  founder  of  an  universal  Empire  of 

A  hundred  years  ago,  the  custom  in  British  thea- 
tres was  to  finish  the  evening's  performance  with 
a  farce.  On  this  occasion  the  tragedy  had  been 
finished  two  centuries  before  the  "comic  relief" 
came.  The  occasion  was  in  the  French  occupation 
of  Portugal  in  1807.  The  strange  belief  in  the 
Hidden  King  broke  out  afresh.  A  rigorous  cen- 
sorship of  Sebastianist  literature  was  without  avail 
— even  though  its  disseminators  were  condemned 
by  the  still-existing  Inquisition.  The  old  prophecy 
was  renewed,  with  a  local  and  personal  application 
— Napoleon  was  to  be  destroyed  in  the  Holy  Week 
of  1808,  by  the  waiting  Sebastian,  whose  approach 
from  his  mysterious  retreat  was  to  be  veiled  with  a 


thick  fog.  There  were  to  be  new  portents ;  the  sky 
was  to  be  emblazoned  with  a  cross  of  the  Order  of 
Aviz,  and  on  March  19th  a  full  moon  was  to  occur 
during  the  last  quarter.  All  these  things  were 
foretold  in  an  egg,  afterwards  sent  by  Junot  to  the 
National  Museum.  The  general  attitude  of  the 
French  people  towards  the  subject  was  illustrated 
by  a  remark  in  an  ironical  manner  of  one  writer: 
"what  can  be  looked  for  from  a  people,  one  half  of 
whom  await  the  Messiah,  the  other  half  Don  Sebas- 
tian?" The  authority  on  the  subject  of  King  Se- 
bastian, M.  d'Antas,  relates  that  as  late  as  1838, 
after  the  crushing  of  a  Sebastianist  insurrection  in 
Brazil  certain  still  believing  Sebastianists  were  to 
be  seen  along  the  coast  peering  through  the  fog  for 
the  sails  of  the  mythical  ship  which  was  to  bring  to 
them  the  Hidden  King  who  was  then  to  reveal  him- 



STEFAN  MALI  (Stephen  the  Little)  was 
an  impostor  who  passed  himself  off  in 
Montenegro  as  the  Czar  Peter  III  of  Rus- 
sia, who  was  supposed  to  have  been  murdered  in 
1762.  He  appeared  in  the  Bocche  di  Cattaro  in 
1767.  No  one  seemed  to  know  him  or  to  doubt 
him ;  indeed  after  he  had  put  forth  his  story  he 
did  not  escape  identification.  One  witness  who  had 
accompanied  a  state  visit  to  Russia  averred  that 
he  recognized  the  features  of  the  Czar  whom  he  had 
seen  in  St.  Petersburg.  Like  all  adventurers 
Stefan  Mali  had  good  personal  resources.  An 
adventurer,  and  especially  an  adventurer  who  is 
also  an  impostor,  must  be  an  opportunist;  and  an 
opportunist  must  be  able  to  move  in  any  direction  at 
any  time;  therefore  he  must  be  always  ready  for 
any  emergency.  The  time,  the  place,  and  the  cir- 
cumstances largely  favoured  the  impostor  in  this 
case.  It  is  perhaps  but  fair  to  credit  him  with 
foreknowledge,  intention,  and  understanding  of 
all  that  he  did.  In  after  years  he  justified  himself 
in  this  respect  and  showed  distinctly  that  he  was 
a  man  of  brains  and  capable  of  using  them.     He 



was  no  doubt  not  only  able  to  sustain  at  the  start 
his  alleged  personality,  but  also  to  act  under  new 
conditions  and  in  new  circumstances  as  they  de- 
veloped themselves,  as  a  man  of  Czar  Peter's  char- 
acter and  acquired  knowledge  might  have  done. 
Cesare  Augusto  Levi,  who  is  the  authority  on  this 
subject,  says,  in  his  work  "Venezia  e  il  Montene- 
gro": "He  was  of  fine  presence  and  well  propor- 
tioned form  and  of  noble  ways.  He  was  so  elo- 
quent that  he  exercised  with  mere  words  a  power 
not  only  on  the  multitude  but  also  on  the  higher 
classes.  .  .  .  He  must  certainly  have  been 
in  St.  Petersburg  before  he  scaled  Montene- 
gro; and  have  known  the  true  Peter  III,  for  he 
imitated  his  voice  and  his  gestures — to  the  illusion- 
ment  of  the  Montenegrins.  There  is  no  certainty 
of  such  a  thing,  but  he  must,  in  the  belief  of  the 
Vladika  Sava  have  been  a  descendant  of  Stefano 
Czernovich  who  reigned  after  Giorgio  IV." 

At  that  time  Montenegro  was  ruled  by  Vladika 
Sava,  who  having  spent  some  twenty  years  in  mo- 
nastic life,  was  unfitted  for  the  government  of  a 
turbulent  nation  always  harassed  by  the  Turks  and 
always  engaged  in  a  struggle  for  bare  existence. 
The  people  of  such  a  nation  naturally  wanted  a 
strong  ruler,  and  as  they  were  discontented  under 
the  sway  of  Sava  the  recognition  of  Stefan  Mali 
was  almost  a  foregone  conclusion.  He  told  a  won- 
derful story  of  his  adventures  since  his  reported 
death — a  story  naturally  interesting  to  such  an  ad- 


venturous  people ;  and  as  he  stated  his  intention  of 
never  returning  to  Russia,  they  were  glad  to  add 
such  a  new  ally  to  their  righting  force  for  the  main- 
tenance of  their  independence.  As  the  will  of  the 
people  was  for  the  new-comer,  the  Vladika  readily 
consented  to  confine  himself  to  his  spiritual  func- 
tions and  to  allow  Stefan  to  govern.  The  Vladika 
of  Montenegro  held  a  strange  office — one  which 
combined  the  functions  of  priest  and  generalissimo 
— so  that  the  new  division  of  the  labour  of  ruling 
was  rather  welcome  than  otherwise  to  the  people 
of  a  nation  where  no  man  ever  goes  without  arms. 
Stephen — as  he  now  was — governed  well.  He  de- 
voted himself  fearlessly  to  the  punishment  of  ill- 
doing,  and  early  in  his  reign  had  men  shot  for  theft. 
He  established  Courts  of  Justice  and  tried  to 
further  means  of  communication  throughout  the 
little  kingdom,  which,  is,  after  all,  little  more  than 
a  bare  rock.  He  even  so  far  impinged  on  Sava's 
sacred  office  as  to  prohibit  Sunday  labour.  In 
fact  his  labours  so  much  improved  the  outlook  of 
the  Montenegrins  that  the  result  brought  trouble 
on  himself  as  well  as  on  the  nation  in  general. 
Hitherto,  whatever  foreign  nations  may  have  be- 
lieved as  to  the  authenticity  of  Stephen's  claim, 
they  had  deliberately  closed  their  eyes  to  his  new 
existence,  so  long  as  under  his  rule  the  little  nation 
of  Montenegro  did  not  become  a  more  dangerous 
enemy  to  all  or  any  .of  them. 

But  the  nations  interested  grew  anxious  at  the 


forward  movement  in  Montenegro.  Venice,  then 
the  possessor  of  Dalmatia,  was  alarmed,  and 
Turkey  regarded  the  new  ruler  as  an  indirect  agent 
of  Russia.  Together  they  declared  war.  This 
was  the  moment  when  Fate  declared  that  the  Pre- 
tender should  show  his  latent  weakness  of  charac- 
ter. The  Montenegrins  are  naturally  so  brave 
that  cowardice  is  unknown  amongst  them;  but 
Stephen  did  not  dare  to  face  the  Turkish  army, 
which  attacked  Montenegro  on  all  the  land  sides. 
But  the  Montenegrins  fought  on  till  a  chance  came 
to  them  after  many  months  of  waiting  in  the  shape 
of  a  fearful  storm  which  desolated  their  enemies' 
Camp.  By  a  sudden  swoop  on  the  camp  they 
seized  much  ammunition  of  which  they  were  sadly 
in  want  and  by  the  aid  of  which  they  gained  de- 
livery from  their  foes.  The  Russian  government 
seemed  then  to  wake  up  to  the  importance  of  the 
situation,  and,  after  sending  the  Montenegrins 
much  help  in  the  shape  of  war  material,  asked  them 
to  join  again  in  the  war  against  the  Turks.  The 
Empress  Catherine  in  addition  to  this  request, 
sent  another  letter  denouncing  Stephen  as  an  im- 
postor. He  admitted  the  charge  and  was  put  in 
prison.  But  in  the  impending  war  a  strong  man 
was  wanted  at  the  head  of  affairs;  and  Sava,  who 
now  had  the  mundane  side  of  his  dual  office  once 
more  thrust  again  upon  him,  was  a  weak  one. 
The  situation  was  saved  by  Prince  George  Dol- 
gourouki,  the  representative  of  the  Empress  Cath- 


erine,  who,  with  statesmanlike  acumen,  saw  that 
such  a  desperate  need  required  an  exceptional 
remedy.  He  recognized  the  false  Czar  as  Regent. 
Stephen  Mali,  thus  restored  to  power  under  such 
powerful  auspices,  once  more  governed  Monte- 
negro until  1774,  when  he  was  murdered  by  the 
Greek  player  Casamugna — by  order,  it  is  said,  of 
the  Pasha  of  Scutari,  Kara  Mahmound. 

By  the  irony  of  Fate  this  was  exactly  the  way  in 
which  the  real  Czar,  whose  personality  he  had 
assumed,  had  died  some  dozen  years  before. 

This  impostor  was  perhaps  the  only  one  who  in 
the  history  of  nations  prospered  finally  in  his 
fraud.  But  as  may  be  seen  he  was  possessed  of 
higher  gifts  than  most  of  his  kind ;  he  was  equal  to 
the  emergencies  which  presented  themselves — and 
circumstances  favoured  him,  rarely. 


ON  21  January,  1793,  Louis  XVI  of  France 
was  beheaded  in  the  Place  de  la  Revolu- 
tion, formerly  Place  de  Louis  Quinze. 
From  the  moment  his  head  fell,  his  only  son  the 
Dauphin  became  by  all  constitutional  usage,  his 
successor,  Louis  XVII.  True  the  child-king  was 
in  the  hands  of  his  enemies;  but  what  mattered 
that  to  believers  in  the  "Divine  Right."  What 
mattered  it  either  that  he  was  at  that  moment  in 
the  prison  of  the  Temple,  where  he  had  languished 
since  August  13,  1792,  already  consecrated  to  de- 
struction, in  one  form  or  another.  He  was  then 
under  eight  years  of  age,  and  so  an  easy  victim. 
His  gaoler,  one  Simon,  had  already  been  instructed 
to  bring  him  up  as  a  "sansculotte."  In  the 
furtherance  of  this  dreadful  ordinance  he  was 
taught  to  drink  and  swear  and  to  take  a  part  in 
ithe  unrighteous  songs  and  ceremonies  of  the  Reign 
of  Terror.  Under  such  conditions  no  one  can  be 
sorry  that  death  came  to  his  relief.  This  was  in 
June,  1795 — he  being  then  in  his  eleventh  year. 
In  the  stress  and  turmoil  of  such  an  overwhelming 
cataclysm  as  the  Revolution,  but  little  notice  was 
taken  of  a  death  which,  under  other  circumstances, 



would  undoubtedly  have  been  of  international  in- 
terest if  not  of  importance.  But  by  this  time  the 
death  of  any  one,  so  long  as  it  was  by  violence, 
was  too  common  a  matter  to  cause  concern  to  others. 
The  Terror  had  practically  glutted  the  lust  for 
blood.  Under  such  conditions  but  little  weight 
was  placed  on  the  accuracy  of  records;  and  to  this 
day  there  survive  practical  inconveniences  and  dif- 
ficulties in  daily  life  from  the  then  disruption  of 
ordered  ways.  The  origin  of  such  frauds  or  means 
of  fraud  as  are  now  before  us  is  in  uncertainty. 
Shakespeare  says: 

"How  oft  the  sight  of  means  to  do  ill  deeds 
Makes  ill  deeds  done." 

The  true  or  natural  criminal  is  essentially  an  op- 
portunist. The  intention  of  crime,  even  if  it  be 
only  a  desire  to  follow  the  line  of  least  resistance, 
is  a  permanent  factor  in  such  lives,  but  the  direc- 
tion, the  mechanism,  and  the  scope  of  the  crime  are 
largely  the  result  of  the  possibilities  which  open  and 
develop  themselves  from  a  fore-ordered  condition 
of  things. 

Here  then  was  the  opening  which  presented  it- 
self at  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century.  France 
was  in  a  state  of  social  chaos.  The  fountains  of 
the  deep  were  stirred,  and  no  human  intelligence 
could  do  more  than  guess  at  what  might  result  from 
any  individual  effort  of  self-advancement.  The 
public  conscience  was  debauched,  and  for  all  prac- 


tical  purposes  the  end  justified  the  means.  It  was 
an  age  of  desperate  adventure,  of  reckless  enter- 
prise, of  unscrupulous  methods.  The  Royalty  of 
France  was  overthrown — in  abeyance  till  at  least 
such  a  time  as  some  Colossus  of  brains  or  energy,  or 
good  fortune,  should  set  it  up  again.  The  hopes 
of  a  great  nation  of  return  to  a  settled  order  of 
things  through  constitutional  and  historical  chan- 
nels were  centred  in  the  succession  to  the  Crown. 
And  through  the  violence  of  the  upheaval  any  is- 
sue was  possible.  The  state  of  affairs  just  before 
the  death  of  Louis  XVII  gave  a  chance  of  success 
to  any  desperate  fraud.  The  old  King  was  dead, 
the  new  King  was  a  child  and  in  the  hands  of  his 
bitterest  enemies.  Even  if  anyone  had  cared  to 
vindicate  his  rights  there  seemed  at  present  no  way 
of  accomplishing  this  object.  To  any  reckless  and 
unscrupulous  adventurer  here  was  an  unique 
chance.  Here  was  a  kingship  going:  a  dar- 
ing hand  might  grasp  the  crown  which  rested  in  so 
perilous  a  manner  on  the  head  of  a  baby.  More- 
over the  events  of  the  last  fifteen  years  of  the 
century  had  not  only  begotten  daring  which  de- 
pended on  promptness,  but  had  taught  and  fostered 
desperation.  It  is  a  wonder  to  us  who  look  back  on 
that  time  through  the  safety-giving  mist  of  a  cen- 
tury, not  that  there  was  any  attempt  to  get  a  crown, 
if  only  by  theft,  but  that  there  were  not  a  hundred 
attempts  made  for  each  one  that  history  has  re- 


As  a  matter  of  fact,  there  were  seven  attempts 
made  to  personate  the  dead  Dauphin,  son  of  Louis 
XVI,  that  "son  of  St.  Louis,"  who,  in  obedience 
to  Abbe  Edgworth's  direction  to  "ascend  to 
heaven,"  went  somewhere  where  it  is  difficult — 
or  perhaps  inexpedient — to  follow  him. 

The  first  pretender  appears  to  have  been  one 
Jean  Marie  Hervagault,  son  of  a  tailor.  His 
qualification  for  the  pretence  appears  to 
have  been  but  a  slender  one,  that  of  having  been 
born  in  1781,  only  about  three  years  before  the 
Dauphin.  This,  taken  by  itself,  would  seem  to  be 
but  a  poor  equipment  for  such  a  crime ;  but  in  com- 
parison with  some  of  the  later  claimants  it  was  not 
without  reason  of  approximate  possibility  as  far 
as  date  was  concerned.  It  was  not  this  crim- 
inal's first  attempt  at  imposture,  for  he  had 
already  pretended  to  be  a  son  of  la  Vaucelle  of 
Longueville  and  of  the  Due  d'Ursef.  Having 
been  arrested  at  Hottot  as  a  vagabond,  he  was  taken 
to  Cherburg,  where  he  was  claimed  by  his  father. 
When  claiming  to  be,  like  the  old  man  in  Mark 
Twain's  inimitable  Huckleberry  Finn,  "the  late 
Dauphin,"  his  story  was  that  he  had  as  a  child  been 
carried  from  the  prison  of  the  Temple  in  a  basket 
of  linen.  In  1799  he  was  imprisoned  at  Chalons- 
sur-Marne  for  a  month.  He  was,  however,  so  far 
successful  in  his  imposture  as  Louis  XVII,  that 
after  some  adventures  he  actually  achieved  a  good 
following — chiefly  of  the  landed  interest  and  clerics. 


He  was  condemned  to  two  years'  imprisonment  at 
Vitry,  and  afterwards  to  a  term  of  twice  that  dura- 
tion, during  which  he  died,  in  1812. 

The  second  and  third  aspirants  to  the  honour  of 
the  vacant  crown  were  inconspicuous  persons  pos- 
sessing neither  personal  qualification  nor  apparent 
claim  of  any  sort  except  that  of  a  desire  for  acquisi- 
tion. One  was  Persat,  an  old  soldier;  the  other, 
Fontolive,  a  bricklayer.  The  pretence  of  either  of 
these  men  would  have  been  entirely  ridiculous  but 
for  its  entirely  tragic  consequences.  There  is 
short  shrift  for  the  unsuccessful  impostor  of  royalty 
— even  in  an  age  of  fluctuation  between  rebellion 
and  anarchy. 

The  fourth  pretender  was  at  least  a  better  work- 
man at  crime  than  his  predecessors.  This  was 
Mathurin  Brunneau — ostensibly  a  shoemaker  but 
in  reality  a  vagabond  peasant  from  Vezins,  in  the 
department  of  Maine-et-Loire.  He  was  a  born 
criminal  as  was  shown  by  his  early  record.  When 
only  eleven  years  of  age  he  claimed  to  be  the  son  of 
the  lord  of  the  village,  Baron  de  Vezins.  He  ob- 
tained the  sympathy  of  the  Countess  de  Turpin  de 
Crisse,  who  seemed  to  have  compassion  for  the  boy. 
Even  when  the  fraud  of  his  parentage  was  found 
out  she  took  him  back  into  her  household — but 
amongst  the  servants.  After  this  his  life  became 
one  of  adventure.  When  he  was  fifteen  he  made  a 
tour  through  France.  In  1803  he  was  put  in  the 
House  of  Correction  at  St.  Denis.     In  1805  he 


enlisted  as  a  gunner.  In  1815  he  re-appeared  with 
an  American  passport  bearing  the  name  of  Charles 
de  Navarre.  His  more  ambitious  attempt  at  per- 
sonation in  1817,  was  not  in  the  long  run  success- 
ful. He  claimed  his  rights,  as  "Dauphin"  Bour- 
bon under  Louis  XVIII,  was  arrested  at  St.  Malo, 
and  confined  at  Bicetre.  He  got  round  him  a 
gang  of  persons  of  evil  life,  as  shown  by  their  vari- 
ous records.  One  was  a  false  priest,  another  a 
prisoner  for  embezzlement,  another  an  ex-bailiff 
who  was  also  a  forger,  another  a  deserter;  with  the 
usual  criminal  concomitant  of  women,  dishonoured 
clergy  and  such  like.  At  Rouen  he  was  sentenced 
to  pay  a  fine  of  three  thousand  francs  in  addition 
to  imprisonment  for  seven  years.  He  died  in 

The  imposture  regarding  the  Dauphin  was  like 
a  torch-race — so  soon  as  the  lighted  torch  fell  from 
the  hand  of  one  runner  it  was  lifted  by  him  who 
followed.  Brunneau,  having  disappeared  into  the 
prison  at  Rouen,  was  succeeded  by  Henri  Herbert 
who  made  a  dramatic  appearance  in  Austria  in 
1818.  At  the  Court  in  Mantone,  the  scene  of  his 
appearance,  he  gave  the  name  of  Louis  Charles  de 
Bourbon,  Due  de  Normandie.  His  account  of 
himself,  given  in  his  book  published  in  1831,  and 
republished — with  enlargements,  by  Chevalier  del 
Corso  in  1850,  is  without  any  respect  at  all  for  the 
credulity  of  his  readers. 

The  story  tells  how  an  alleged  doctor,  one  an- 


swering  to  the  not  common  name  of  Jenais-Ojar- 
dias,  some  time  before  the  death  of  the  Dauphin 
had  had  made  a  toy  horse  of  sufficient  size  to  con- 
tain the  baby  king,  the  opening  to  the  interior  of 
which  was  hidden  by  the  saddle-cloth.  The  wife 
of  the  gaoler  Simon,  helped  in  the  plot,  the  carrying 
out  of  which  was  attempted  early  in  1794.  An- 
other child  about  the  Dauphin's  size,  dying  or 
marked  for  death  by  fatal  disease,  was  drugged 
and  hidden  in  the  interior.  When  the  toy  horse 
was  placed  in  the  Dauphin's  cell  the  children  were 
exchanged,  the  little  king  having  also  been 
drugged  for  the  purpose.  It  would  almost  seem 
that  the  narrator  here  either  lost  his  head  or  was 
seized  with  a  violent  cacoethes  scrihendi,  for  he  most 
unnecessarily  again  lugs  in  the  episode  adapted 
from  Trojan  history.  The  worthy  doctor  of  the 
double  name  had  another  horse  manufactured,  this 
time  of  life  size.  Into  the  alleged  entrails  of  this 
animal,  which  was  harnessed  with  three  real  horses 
as  one  of  a  team  of  four,  the  Dauphin,  once 
more  drugged,  was  concealed.  He  was  borne  to 
refuge  in  Belgium,  where  he  was  placed  under 
the  protection  of  the  Prince  de  Conde.  By  this 
protector  he  was,  according  to  his  story,  sent  to 
General  Kleber  who  took  him  to  Egypt  as  his 
nephew  under  the  name  of  Monsieur  Louis.  After 
the  battle  of  Marengo  in  1800,  he  returned 
to  France,  where  he  confided  his  secret  to  Lucien 
Bonaparte  and  to  Fouche  (the  Minister  of  Police), 


who  got  him  introduced  to  the  Empress  Josephine, 
who  recognised  him  by  a  scar  over  his  right  eye. 
In  1804  (still  according  to  his  story),  he  embarked 
for  America  and  got  away  to  the  banks  of  the 
Amazon,  where  amid  the  burning  deserts  (as  he 
put  it)  he  had  adventures  capable  of  consuming 
lesser  romancists  with  envy.  Some  of  these  ad- 
ventures were  amongst  a  tribe  called  "the  Mame- 
lucks" — which  name  was  at  least  reminiscent  of  his 
alleged  Egyptian  experiences.  From  the  burning 
deserts  on  the  banks  of  the  Amazon  he  found  his 
way  to  Brazil,  where  a  certain  "Don  Juan,"  late  of 
Portugal  and  at  that  time  Regent  of  Brazil,  gave 
him  asylum. 

Leaving  the  hospitable  home  of  Don  Juan,  he 
returned  to  Paris  in  1815.  Here  Conde  introduced 
him  to  the  Duchesse  d'Angouleme  (his  sister!) 
and  according  to  his  own  naive  statement  "the 
Princess  was  greatly  surprised,"  as  indeed  she 
might  well  have  been — quite  as  much  as  the  witch  of 
Endor  was  by  the  appearance  of  Samuel.  Having 
been  repulsed  by  his  (alleged)  sister,  the  alleged 
king  made  a  little  excursion,  embracing  in  its 
erratic  course  Rhodes,  England,  Africa,  Egypt, 
Asia  Minor,  Greece,  and  Italy.  When  in  Austria 
he  met  Silvio  Pellico  in  prison.  Having  spent 
some  years  himself  in  prison  in  the  same  countiy, 
he  went  to  Switzerland.  Leaving  Geneva  in 
1826,  he  entered  France,  under  the  name  of  Her- 
bert.    He  was  in  Paris  the  following  year  under 


the  name  of  "Colonel  Gustave,"  and  forthwith  re- 
vived his  fraud  of  being  "the  late  Dauphin."  In 
1828,  he  appealed  to  the  Chamber  of  Peers.  To 
this  appeal  he  appears  to  have  received  no  direct 
reply;  but  apropos  of  it,  Baron  Mounier  made  a 
proposition  to  the  Chamber  that  in  future  no  such 
application  should  be  received  unless  properly 
signed  and  attested  and  presented  by  a  member  of 
the  Chamber.  He  gathered  round  him  some  dupes 
who  believed  in  him.  To  these  he  told  a  number  of 
strange  lies  based  on  some  form  of  perverted  truth, 
but  always  taking  care  that  those  of  whom  he  spoke 
were  already  dead.  Amongst  them  was  the  wife 
of  Simon,  who  had  died  in  1819.  Desault,  the 
surgeon,  who  had  medical  care  of  Louis  XVII, 
and  who  died  in  1795,  the  ex-Empress  Josephine, 
who  died  in  1814,  General  Pichegru,  who  died  in 
1804,  and  the  Due  de  Bourbon  (Prince  de 
Conde)  who  died  in  1818.  In  the  course  of  his 
citation  of  the  above  names,  he  plays  havoc  with 
generally  accepted  history — Desault  according  to 
him  did  not  die  naturally  but  was  poisoned.  Jose- 
phine died  simply  because  she  knew  the  secret  of 
the  young  King's  escape.  Pichegru  died  from  a 
similar  cause  and  not  by  suicide.  Fualdes  was  as- 
sassinated, but  it  was  because  he  knew  the  fatal 
secret.  With  regard  to  one  of  his  dead  witnesses 
whose  name  was  Thomas-Ignace-Martin  de  Gal- 
lardon,  there  is  a  rigmarole  which  would  not  be 
accepted  in  the  nursery  of  an  idiot  asylum.     There 


is  a  mixture  of  Pagan  mythology  and  Christian 
hagiology  which  would  have  been  condemned  by 
Ananias  himself.  In  one  passage  he  talks  of  see- 
ing suddenly  before  him — he  could  not  tell  (natur- 
ally enough)  whence  he  came — a  sort  of  angel  who 
had  wings,  a  long  coat  and  a  high  hat.  This  super- 
natural person  ordered  the  narrator  to  tell  the  King 
that  he  was  in  danger,  and  the  only  way  to  avoid 
it  was  to  have  a  good  police  and  to  keep  the  Sab- 
bath. Having  given  his  message  the  visitant  rose 
in  the  air  and  disappeared.  Later  on  the  sug- 
gested angel  told  him  to  communicate  with  the  Due 
Decazes.  The  Duke  naturally,  and  wisely  enough, 
handed  the  credulous  peasant  over  to  the  care  of  a 
doctor.  Martin  himself  died,  presumably  by  as- 
sassination, in  1834. 

The  Revolution  of  1830  awoke  the  pretensions  of 
Herbert,  who  now  appeared  as  the  Baron  de  Riche- 
mont,  and  wrote  to  the  Duchesse  d'Angouleme, 
his  (supposed)  sister,  putting  on  her  the  blame  of 
all  his  troubles.  But  the  consequences  of  this  effort 
were  disastrous  to  him.  He  was  arrested  in 
August,  1833.  After  hearing  many  witnesses  the 
Court  condemned  him  to  imprisonment  for  twelve 
years.  He  was  arraigned  under  the  name  of 
"Ethelbert  Louis-Hector-Alfred,"  calling  himself 
the  "Baron  de  Richmont."  He  escaped  from 
Clairvaux,  whither  he  had  been  transferred  from 
Saint-Pelagie,  in  1835.  In  1843  and  1846  he  pub- 
lished his  memoirs — enlarged  but  omitting  some 


of  his  earlier  assertions,  which  had  been  disproved. 
He  returned  to  France  after  the  amnesty  of  1840. 
In  1848  he  appealed — unheeded — to  the  National 
Assembly.     He  died  in  1855  at  Gleyze. 

The  sixth  "Late  Dauphin"  was  a  Polish  Jew 
called  Naundorf — an  impudent  impostor  not  even 
seeming  suitably  prepared  by  time  for  the  part 
which  he  had  thus  voluntarily  undertaken,  having 
been  born  in  1775,  and  thus  having  been  as  old  at 
the  birth  of  the  Dauphin  as  the  latter  was  when  he 
died.  This  individual  had  appeared  in  Berlin  in 
1810,  and  was  married  in  Spandau  eight  years 
later.  He  had  been  punished  for  incendiarism  in 
1824,  and  later  got  three  years'  imprisonment  at 
Brandenburg  for  coining.  He  may  be  considered 
as  a  fairly  good  all-round — if  unsuccessful — crim- 
inal. In  England  he  was  imprisoned  for  debt. 
He  died  in  Delft  in  1845. 

The  last  attempt  at  impersonating  Louis  XVII, 
the  seventh,  afforded  what  might  in  theatrical  par- 
lance be  called  the  "comic  relief"  of  the  whole  series, 
both  as  regards  means  and  results.  This  time  the 
claimant  to  the  Kingship  of  France  was  none  other 
than  a  half-bred  Iroquois,  one  called  Eleazar,  who 
appeared  to  be  the  ninth  son  of  Thomas  Williams, 
otherwise  Thorakwaneken,  and  an  Indian  woman, 
Mary  Ann  Konwatewentala.  This  lady,  who 
spoke  only  Iroquois,  said  at  the  opportune  time  she 
was  not  the  mother  of  Lazar  (Iroquois  for  Elea- 
zar).    She  made  her  mark  as  she  could  not  write. 


Eleazar  had  been  almost  an  idiot  till  the  age  of 
thirteen;  but,  being  struck  on  the  head  by  a  stone, 
recovered  his  memory  and  intelligence.  He  said 
he  remembered  sitting  on  the  knees  of  a  beautiful 
lady  who  wore  a  rich  dress  with  a  train.  He  also 
remembered  seeing  in  his  childhood  a  terrible  per- 
son; shewn  the  picture  of  Simon  he  recognised  him 
with  terror.  He  learned  English  but  imperfectly, 
became  a  Protestant  and  a  missionary  and  married. 
His  profile  was  something  like  that  of  the  typical 
Bourbon.  In  1841,  the  Prince  de  Joinville,  see- 
ing him  on  his  travels  in  the  United  States,  told 
him  (according  to  Eleazar's  account)  that  he  was 
the  son  of  a  king,  and  got  him  to  sign  and  seal  a 
parchment,  already  prepared,  the  same  being  a 
solemn  abdication  of  the  Crown  of  France  in  favour 
of  Louis  Philippe,  made  by  Charles  Louis,  son  of 
Louis  XVI,  also  styled  Louis  XVII  King  of 
France  and  Navarre.  The  seal  used  was 
the  seal  of  France,  the  one  used  by  the  old  Mon- 
archy. The  "poor  Indian  with  untutored 
mind"  made  with  charming  diffidence  the  saving 
clause  regarding  the  seal, — "if  I  am  not  mis- 
taken." Of  course  there  was  in  the  abdication  a 
clause  regarding  the  payment  of  a  sum  of  money 
"which  would  enable  me  to  live  in  great  luxury  in 
this  country  or  in  France  as  I  might  choose."  The 
Reverend  Eleazar,  despite  his  natural  disadvan- 
tages and  difficulties,  was  more  fortunate  than  his 
fellow  claimants  inasmuch  as  the  time  of  his  im- 


posture  was  more  propitious.  Louis  Philippe, 
who  was  always  anxious  to  lessen  the  danger  to  his 
tottering  throne,  made  a  settlement  on  him  from 
his  Civil  List,  and  the  ''subsequent  proceedings  in- 
terested him  no  more." 

Altogether  the  Louis  XVII  impostures  extended 
over  a  period  of  some  sixty  years,  beginning  with 
Hervagault's  pretence  soon  after  the  death  of  the 
Dauphin,  and  closing  at  Gleyze  with  the  death  of 
Henri  Herbert,  the  alleged  Baron  de  Richmont 
who  appeared  as  the  alleged  Due  de  Normandie. 


THE  story  of  Mrs.  Olive  Serres,  as  nature 
made  it,  was  one  thing;  it  was  quite  an- 
other as  she  made  it  for  herself.  The  re- 
sult, before  the  story  was  completely  told,  was  a 
third;  and,  compared  with  the  other,  one  of  tran- 
scendent importance.  Altogether  her  efforts, 
whatsoever  they  were  and  crowned  never  so  ef- 
fectively, showed  a  triumph  in  its  way  of  the 
thaumaturgic  art  of  lying;  but  like  all  structures 
built  on  sand  it  collapsed  eventually.  In  the  plain 
version — nature's — the  facts  were  simply  as  fol- 
lows. She,  and  a  brother  of  no  importance,  were 
the  children  of  a  house  painter  living  in  Warwick, 
one  Robert  Wilmot,  and  of  Anna  Maria  his  wife. 
Having  been  born  in  1772  she  was  under  age 
when  in  1791  she  was  married,  the  ceremony  there- 
fore requiring  licence  supported  by  bond  and  affi- 
davit. Her  husband  was  John  Thomas  Serres 
who  ten  years  later  was  appointed  marine  painter 
to  King  George  III.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Serres  were 
separated  in  1804  after  the  birth  of  two  daughters, 
the  elder  of  whom,  born  in  1797,  became  in  1822 
the  wife  of  Antony  Thomas  Ryves  a  portrait 
painter — whom  she  divorced  in  1847.     Mrs.  A.  T. 



Ryves  twelve  years  later  filed  a  petition  praying 
that  the  marriage  of  her  mother,  made  in  1791, 
might  be  declared  valid  and  she  herself  the  legiti- 
mate issue  of  that  marriage.  The  case  was  heard 
in  1861,  Mrs.  Ryves  conducting  it  in  person. 
Having  produced  sufficient  evidence  of  the  mar- 
riage and  the  birth,  and  there  being  no  opposition, 
the  Court  almost  as  a  matter  of  course  pronounced 
the  decree  asked  for.  In  this  case  no  complications 
in  the  way  of  birth  or  marriage  of  Mrs.  Serres 
were  touched  on. 

Robert  Wilmot,  the  house-painter,  had  an  elder 
brother  James  who  became  a  Fellow  of  Trinity 
College,  Oxford,  and  went  into  the  Church,  taking 
his  degree  of  Doctor  of  Divinity.  Through  his 
College  he  was  presented  in  1781  to  the  living  of 
Barton-on-the-heath,  Warwickshire.  The  Stat- 
utes of  his  College  contained  a  prohibition  against 
marriage  whilst  a  Fellow.  James  Wilmot  D.  D. 
died  in  1807  leaving  his  property  between  the  two 
children  of  Robert,  after  life-use  by  his  brother. 
James  and  Robert  Wilmot  had  a  sister  Olive,  who 
was  born  in  1728  and  married  in  1754  to  William 
Payne  with  issue  one  daughter,  Olivia,  born  in 
1759.     Robert  Wilmot  died  in  1812. 

Out  of  these  rough  materials  Mrs.  Olive  Serres 
set  herself  in  due  course  to  construct  and  carry  out, 
as  time  and  opportunity  allowed,  and  as  occasions 
presented  themselves  and  developed,  a  fraudulent 
romance  in  real  life  and  action.     She  was,  however, 



a  very  clever  woman  and  in  certain  ways — as  was 
afterwards  proved  by  her  literary  and  artistic  work 
— well  dowered  by  nature  for  the  task — crooked 
though  it  was — which  she  set  for  herself.  Her 
ability  was  shown  not  only  by  what  she  could  do 
and  did  at  this  time  of  her  life,  but  by  the  manner 
in  which  she  developed  her  natural  gifts  as  time 
went  on.  In  the  sum  of  her  working  life,  in  which 
the  perspective  of  days  becomes  merged  in  that  of 
years,  she  touched  on  many  subjects,  not  always  of 
an  ordinary  kind,  which  shewed  often  that  she  was 
of  conspicuous  ability,  having  become  accomplished 
in  several  branches  of  art.  She  was  a  painter  of 
sufficient  merit  to  have  exhibited  her  work  in  the 
Royal  Academy  in  1794  and  to  be  appointed  land- 
scape-painter to  the  Prince  of  Wales  in  1806.  She 
was  a  novelist,  a  press  writer,  an  occasional  poet 
and  in  many  ways  of  a  ready  pen.  She  was  skilled 
in  some  forms  of  occultism,  and  could  cast  horo- 
scopes ;  she  wrote,  in  addition  to  a  pamphlet  on  the 
same  subject,  a  book  on  the  writings  of  Junius, 
claiming  to  have  discovered  the  identity  of  the 
author — none  other  than  James  Wilmot  D.  D. 
She  wrote  learnedly  on  disguised  handwriting.  In 
fact  she  touched  on  the  many  phases  of  literary 
effort  which  come  within  the  scope  of  those  who 
live  by  the  work  of  their  brains.  Perhaps,  indeed, 
it  was  her  facility  as  a  writer  that  helped  to  lead 
her  astray;  for  in  her  practical  draughtsmanship 
and  in  her  brain  teeming  with  romantic  ideas  she 


found  a  means  of  availing  herself  of  opportunities 
suggested  by  her  reckless  ambition.  Doubtless  the 
cramped  and  unpoetic  life  of  her  humble  condition 
in  the  house-painter's  home  in  Warwick  made  her 
fret  and  chafe  under  its  natural  restraint.  But 
when  she  saw  her  way  to  an  effective  scheme  of  en- 
larging her  self-importance  she  acted  with  extraor- 
dinary daring  and  resource.  As  is  usual  with  such 
natures,  when  moral  restraints  have  been  aban- 
doned, the  pendulum  swung  to  its  opposite.  As 
she  had  been  lowly  she  determined  to  be  proud ;  and 
having  fixed  on  her  objective  began  to  elaborate  a 
consistent  scheme,  utilising  the  facts  of  her  own 
surroundings  as  the  foundation  of  her  imposture. 
She  probably  realised  early  that  there  must  be  a 
base  somewhere,  and  so  proceeded  to  manufacture 
or  arrange  for  herself  a  new  identity  into  which 
the  demonstrable  facts  of  her  actual  life  could  be 
wrought.  At  the  same  time  she  manifestly  real- 
ised that  in  a  similar  way  fact  and  intention  must 
be  interwoven  throughout  the  whole  of  her  con- 
templated creation.  Accordingly  she  created  for 
herself  a  new  milieu  which  she  supported  by  forged 
documents  of  so  clever  a  conceit  and  such  excellent 
workmanship,  that  they  misled  all  who  investigated 
them,  until  they  came  within  the  purview  of  the 
great  lawyers  of  the  day  whose  knowledge,  logical 
power,  skill  and  determination  were  arrayed 
against  her.  By  a  sort  of  intellectual  metabolism 
she  changed  the  identities  and  conditions  of  her 


own  relations  whom  I  have  mentioned,  always  tak- 
ing care  that  her  story  held  together  in  essential 
possibilities,  and  making  use  of  the  abnormalities 
of  those  whose  prototypes  she  introduced  into  fic- 
tional life. 

The  changes  made  in  her  world  of  new  condi- 
tions  were   mainly    as    follows:     Her    uncle,    the 
Reverend  James,  who  as  a  man  of  learning  and 
dignity  was  accustomed  to  high-class  society,  and 
as  a  preacher  of  eminence  occasionally  in  touch  with 
Crown  and  Court,  became  her  father;  and  she  her- 
self the  child  of  a  secret  marriage  with  a  great  lady 
whose  personal  rank  and  condition  would  reflect 
importance  on  her  daughter.    But  proof,  or  alleged 
proof,  of  some  kind  would  be  necessary  and  there 
were  too  many  persons  at   present  living  whose 
testimony  would  be  available  for  her  undoing.     So 
her  uncle  James  shifted  his  place  and  became  her 
grandfather.     To    this    the    circumstances    of   his 
earlier  life  gave  credibility  in  two  ways;  firstly  be- 
cause they  allowed  of  his  having  made  a  secret 
marriage,  since  he  was  forbidden  to  marry  by  the 
statutes  of  his  college,  and  secondly  because  they 
gave  a  reasonable  excuse  for  concealing  his  mar- 
riage and  the  birth  of  a  child,  publicity  regarding 
which  would  have  cost  him  his  livelihood. 

At  this  point  the  story  began  to  grow  logically, 
and  the  whole  scheme  to  expand  cohesively.  Her 
genius  as  a  writer  of  fiction  was  being  proved ;  and 
with  the  strengthening  of  the  intellectual  nature 


came  the  atrophy  of  the  moral.  She  began  to  look 
higher;  and  the  seeds  of  imagination  took  root  in 
her  vanity  till  the  madness  latent  in  her  nature 
turned  wishes  into  beliefs  and  beliefs  into  facts. 
As  she  was  imagining  on  her  own  behoof,  why  not 
imagine  beneficially?  This  all  took  time,  so  that 
when  she  was  well  prepared  for  her  venture  things 
had  moved  on  in  the  nation  and  the  world  as  well 
as  in  her  fictitious  romance.  Manifestly  she  could 
not  make  a  start  on  her  venture  until  the  possibility 
vanished  of  witnesses  from  the  inner  circle  of  her 
own  family  being  brought  against  her;  so  that  she 
could  not  safely  begin  machinations  for  some  time. 
She  determined  however  to  be  ready  when  occasion 
should  serve.  In  the  meantime  she  had  to  lead  two 
lives.  Outwardly  she  was  Olive  Serres,  daughter 
of  Robert  Wilmot  born  in  1772  and  married  in 
1791,  and  mother  of  two  daughters.  Inwardly 
she  was  the  same  woman  with  the  same  birth,  mar- 
riage and  motherhood,  but  of  different  descent  be- 
ing (imaginatively)  grand-daughter  of  her  (real) 
uncle  the  Rev.  James  Wilmot  D.  D.  The  gaps  in 
the  imaginary  descent  having  been  thus  filled  up  as 
made  and  provided  in  her  own  mind,  she  felt  more 
safe.  Her  uncle — so  ran  her  fiction — had  early 
in  his  college  life  met  and  become  friends  with 
Count  Stanislaus  Poniatowski  who  later  became  by 
election  King  of  Poland.  Count  Poniatowski  had 
a  sister — whom  the  ingenious  Olive  dubbed  "Prin- 
cess of  Poland" — who  became  the  wife  of  her  uncle 


(now  her  grandfather)  James.  To  them  was  born, 
in  1750,  a  daughter  Olive,  the  marriage  being  kept 
secret  for  family  reasons,  and  the  child  for  the 
same  reason  being  passed  off  as  the  offspring  of 
Robert  the  housepainter.  This  child  Olive,  accord- 
ing to  the  fiction,  met  His  Royal  Highness  Henry 
Frederick,  Duke  of  Cumberland,  brother  of  the 
King,  George  III.  They  fell  in  love  with  each 
other  and  were  privately  married — by  the  Rev. 
James  Wilmot  D.  D.— on  4  March  1*767.  They 
had  issue  one  daughter,  Olive,  born  at  Warwick  3 
April  1772.  After  living  with  her  for  four  years 
the  Duke  of  Cumberland  deserted  his  wife,  who 
was  then  pregnant,  and  in  1771  married — biga- 
mously,  it  was  alleged — Lady  Anne  Horton,  sister 
of  Colonel  Luttrell,  daughter  of  Lord  Irnliam,  and 
widow  of  Andrew  Horton  of  Catton,  Derbyshire. 
The  (alleged)  Royal  Duchess  died  in  France  in 
1774,  and  the  Duke  in  1790. 

Thus  fact  and  fiction  were  arrayed  together  in  a 
very  cumiing  way.  The  birth  of  Olive  Wilmot 
(afterwards  Serres)  in  1772  was  proved  by  a  gen- 
uine registry.  Likewise  that  of  her  daughter  Mrs. 
Ryves.  For  all  the  rest  the  certificates  were 
forged.  Moreover  there  wTas  proof  of  another 
Olive  Wilmot  whose  existence,  supported  by  gen- 
uine registration,  might  avert  suspicion;  since  it 
would  be  difficult  to  prove  after  a  lapse  of  time  that 
the  Olive  Wilmot  born  at  Warwick  in  1772  daugh- 
ter of  Robert    (the  house-painter),   was  not  the 


granddaughter  of  James  (the  Doctor  of  Divinity). 
In  case  of  necessity  the  real  date  (1759)  of  the 
birth  of  Olive  Wilmot  sister  of  the  Rev.  James 
could  easily  be  altered  to  the  fictitious  date  of  the 
birth  of  "Princess"  Olive  born  1750. 

It  was  only  in  1817  that  Mrs.  Serres  began  to 
take  active  measures  for  carrying  her  imposture 
into  action ;  and  in  the  process  she  made  some  tenta- 
tive efforts  which  afterwards  made  difficulty  for 
her.  At  first  she  sent  out  a  story,  through  a 
memorial  to  George  III,  that  she  was  daughter  of 
the  Duke  of  Cumberland  by  Mrs.  Payne,  wife  of 
Captain  Payne  and  sister  of  James  Wilmot  D.  D. 
This  she  amended  later  in  the  same  year  by  alleg- 
ing that  she  was  a  natural  daughter  of  the  Duke 
by  the  sister  of  Doctor  Wilmot,  whom  he  had  se- 
duced under  promise  of  marriage.  It  was  not  till 
after  the  deaths  of  George  III  and  the  Duke  of 
Kent  in  1820,  that  the  story  took  its  third  and  final 

It  should  be  noticed  that  care  was  taken  not  to 
clash  with  laws  already  in  existence  or  to  run 
counter  to  generally  received  facts.  In  1772  was 
passed  the  Royal  Marriage  Act  (12  George  III 
Cap.  11)  which  nullified  any  marriage  contracted 
with  anyone  in  the  succession  to  the  Crown  to  which 
the  Monarch  had  not  given  his  sanction.  There- 
fore Mrs.  Serres  had  fixed  the  (alleged)  marriage 
of  (the  alleged)  Olive  Wilmot  with  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland  as  in  1767 — five  years  earlier — so  that 


the  Act  could  not  be  brought  forward  as  a  bar  to 
its  validity.  Up  to  1772  such  marriages  could  take 
place  legally.  Indeed  there  was  actually  a  case  in 
existence — the  Duke  of  Gloucester  (another 
brother  of  the  King)  having  married  the  dowager 
Countess  of  Waldegrave.  It  was  ef  common  re- 
pute that  this  marriage  was  the  motive  of  the 
King's  resolve  to  have  the  Royal  Marriage  Act 
added  to  the  Statute  book.  At  the  main  trial  it 
was  alleged  by  Counsel,  in  making  the  petitioner's 
claim,  that  the  King  (George  III)  was  aware  of 
the  Duke  of  Cumberland's  marriage  with  Olive 
Wilmot,  although  it  was  not  known  to  the  public, 
and  that  when  he  heard  of  his  marriage  with  Lady 
Anne  Horton  he  was  very  angry  and  would  not  al- 
low them  to  come  to  Court. 

The  various  allegations  of  Mrs.  Serres  as  to  her 
mother's  marriage  were  not  treated  seriously  for  a 
long  time  but  they  were  so  persisted  in  that  it  be- 
came necessary  to  have  some  denial  in  evidence. 
Accordingly  a  law-case  was  entered.  One  which 
became  a  cause  celebre.  It  began  in  1866 — just 
about  a  hundred  years  from  the  time  of  the  alleged 
marriage.  With  such  a  long  gap  the  difficulties 
of  disproving  Mrs.  Serres'  allegations  were  much 
increased.  But  there  was  no  help  for  it;  reasons 
of  State  forbade  the  acceptance  or  even  the  doubt 
of  such  a  claim.  The  really  important  point  was 
that  if  by  any  chance  the  claimant  should  win,  the 
Succession  would  be  endangered. 


The  presiding  judge  was  the  Lord  Chief  Justice, 
Lord  Cockburn.  With  him  sat  Lord  Chief  Baron 
Pollock  and  the  Judge  Ordinary  Sir  James  Wilde. 
There  was  a  special  jury.  The  case  took  the  form 
of  one  in  the  English  Probate  Court  made  under 
the  "Legitimacy  Declaration  Act."  In  this  case, 
Mrs.  Ryves,  daughter  of  Mrs.  Serres,  was  the  pe- 
titioner. Associated  with  her  in  the  claim  was  her 
son,  who,  however,  is  of  no  interest  in  the  matter 
and  need  not  be  considered.  The  petition  stated 
that  Mrs.  Ryves  was  the  legitimate  daughter  of  one 
John  Thomas  Serres  and  Olive  his  wife,  the  said 
Olive  being,  whilst  living,  a  natural-born  subject 
and  the  legitimate  daughter  of  Henry  Frederick, 
Duke  of  Cumberland  and  Oiive  Wilmot,  his  wife. 
That  the  said  Olive  Wilmot,  born  in  1750,  was  law- 
fully married  to  His  Royal  Highness  Henry  Fred- 
erick, Duke  of  Cumberland,  fourth  son  of  Fred- 
erick Prince  of  Wales  (thus  being  grandson  of 
George  II  and  brother  of  King  George  III),  on 
4  March  1767,  at  the  house  of  Thomas,  Lord 
Archer,  in  Grosvenor  Square,  London,  the  mar- 
riage being  performed  by  the  Rev.  James  Wilmot 
D.  D.,  father  of  the  said  Olive  Wilmot.  That  a 
child,  Olive,  was  born  to  them  on  3  April  1772,  who 
in  1791  was  married  to  John  Thomas  Serres.  And 
so  on  in  accordance  with  the  (alleged)  facts  above 

The  strange  position  was  that  even  if  the  pe- 


titioner  should  win  her  main  case  she  would  prove 
her  own  illegitimacy.  For  granting  that  the  al- 
leged Olive  Serres  should  have  been  legally  mar- 
ried to  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  the  Royal  Mar- 
riage Act,  passed  five  years  later,  forbade  the 
union  of  the  child  of  such  a  marriage,  except  with 
the  sanction  of  the  reigning  monarch. 

In  the  making  of  the  claim  of  Mrs.  Ryves  a 
grave  matter  appeared — one  which  rendered  it  ab- 
solutely necessary  that  the  case  should  be  heard  in 
the  most  formal  and  adequate  way  and  settled  once 
for  all.  The  matter  was  one  affecting  the  legality 
of  the  marriage  of  George  III,  and  so  touching 
the  legitimacy  of  his  son  afterwards  George  IV,  his 
son  afterwards  William  IV  and  his  son  the  Duke 
of  Kent,  father  of  Queen  Victoria — and  so  debar- 
ring them  and  all  their  descendants  from  the  Crown 
of  England.  The  points  of  contact  were  in  docu- 
ments insidiously  though  not  overtly  produced  and 
the  preparation  of  which  showed  much  constructive 
skill  in  the  world  of  fiction.  Amongst  the  many 
documents  put  in  evidence  by  the  Counsel  for  Mrs. 
Ryves  were  two  certificates  of  the  (alleged)  mar- 
riage between  Olive  Wilmot  and  the  Duke  of  Cum- 
berland. On  the  back  of  each  of  these  alleged  cer- 
tificates was  written  what  purported  to  be  a  certifi- 
cate of  the  marriage  of  George  III  to  Hannah 
Lightfoot  performed  in  1759  by  J.  Wilmot.  The 
wording  of  the  documents  varied  slightly. 


It  was  thus  that  the  claim  of  Mrs.  Ryves  and  her 
son  became  linked  up  with  the  present  and  future 
destinies  of  England.  These  alleged  documents 
too,  brought  the  Attorney  General  upon  the  scene. 
There  were  two  reasons  for  this.  Firstly  the  action 
had  to  be  taken  against  the  Crown  in  the  matter 
of  form ;  secondly  in  such  a  case  with  the  possibility 
of  such  vast  issues  it  was  absolutely  necessary  that 
every  position  should  be  carefully  guarded,  every 
allegation  jealously  examined.  In  each  case  the 
Attorney  General  was  the  proper  official  to  act. 

The  Case  of  the  Petitioners  was  prepared  with 
extraordinary  care.  There  were  amongst  the  doc- 
uments produced,  numbering  over  seventy,  some 
containing  amongst  them  forty-three  signatures  of 
Dr.  Wilmot,  sixteen  of  Lord  Chatham,  twelve  of 
Mr.  Dunning  (afterwards  the  1st  Baron  Ash- 
burton),  twelve  of  George  III,  thirty-two  of  Lord 
Warwick  and  eighteen  of  H.R.H.,  the  Duke  of 
Kent,  the  father  of  Queen  Victoria.  Their  coun- 
sel stated  that  although  these  documents  had  been 
repeatedly  brought  to  the  notice  of  the  successive 
Ministers  of  the  Crown,  it  had  never  been  sug- 
gested until  that  day  that  they  were  forgeries. 
This  latter  statement  was  traversed  in  Court  by  the 
Lord  Chief  Baron,  who  called  attention  to  a  debate 
on  the  subject  in  the  House  of  Commons  in  which 
they  were  denounced  as  forgeries. 

In  addition  to  those  documents  already  quoted 
were  the  following  certificates : 


"The  marriage  of  these  parties  was  this 
day  duly  solemnized  at  Kew  Chapel,  ac- 
cording to  the  rites  and  ceremonies  of  the 
Church  of  England,  by  myself. 

"J.  Wilmot." 
"George  P." 
Witness  to  this  marriage 
"W.  Pitt." 
"Anne  Taylor." 

May  27, 1759. 

April  17,  1759 
"This  is  to  Certify  that  the  marriage  o 
these  parties  (George,  Prince  of  Wales, 
to  Hannah  Lightfoot)  was  duly  solem- 
nized this  day,  according  to  the  rites  and 
ceremonies  of  the  Church  of  England,  at 
their  residence  at  Peckham,  by  myself. 

"J.  Wilmot." 
"George  Guelph." 
"Hannah  Lightfoot." 
Witness  to  the  marriage  of  these  par- 

"William  Pitt." 
"Anne  Taylor." 

"I  hereby  Certify  that  George,  Prince 
of  Wales,  married  Hannah  Wheeler  alias 
Lightfoot,  April  17,  1759,  but  from  find- 


ing  the  latter  to  be  her  right  name  I 
solemnized  the  union  of  the  said  parties  a 
second  time  May  the  27th,  1759,  as  the 
Certificate  affixed  to  this  paper  will  con- 

"J.  Wilmot. 

Witness  (Torn) 

The  case  for  the  Crown  was  strongly  supported. 
Not  only  did  the  Attorney-General,  Sir  Roundell 
Palmer  (afterwards  Lord  Chancellor  and  First 
Earl  of  Selborne)  appear  himself,  but  he  was  sup- 
ported by  the  Solicitor-General,  the  Queen's  Ad- 
vocate, Mr.  Hannen  and  Mr.  R.  Bourke.  The  At- 
torney-General made  the  defence  himself.  At  the 
outset  it  was  difficult  to  know  where  to  begin,  for 
everywhere  undoubted  and  unchallenged  facts  were 
interwoven  with  the  structure  of  the  case ;  and  of  all 
the  weaknesses  and  foibles  of  the  important  persons 
mentioned,  full  advantage  was  taken.  The  mar- 
riage of  the  Duke  of  Gloucester  to  Lady  Walde- 
grave  had  made  him  unpopular  in  every  way,  and 
he  was  at  the  time  a  persona  ingrata  at  Court. 
There  had  been  rumours  of  scandal  about  the  King 
(when  Prince  of  Wales)  and  the  "Fair  Quaker," 
Hannah  Lightfoot.  The  anonymity  of  the  author 
of  the  celebrated  "Letters  of  Junius,"  which  at- 
tacked the  King  so  unmercifully,  lent  plausibility 
to  any  story  which  might  account  for  it.  The  case 
of  Mrs.  Ryves,  tried  in  1861,  in  which  her  own 


legitimacy  had  been  proved  and  in  which  indis- 
putable documents  had  been  used,  was  taken  as  a 
proof  of  her  bona  fides. 

Mrs.  Ryves  herself  was  in  the  box  for  nearly  the 
whole  of  three  days,  during  which  she  bore  herself 
firmly,  refusing  even  to  sit  down  when  the  presid- 
ing judge  courteously  extended  that  privilege  to 
her.  She  was  then,  by  her  own  statement,  over 
seventy  years  of  age.  In  the  course  of  her  evi- 
dence a  Memorial  to  George  IV  was  produced, 
written  by  her  mother,  Mrs.  Serres,  in  which  the 
word  offspring  was  spelled  "orf spring";  in  com- 
menting on  which  the  Attorney-General  produced 
a  congratulatory  Ode  to  the  Prince  Regent  on  his 
birthday  in  1812,  by  the  same  author,  in  which  oc- 
curred the  line : 

"Hail  valued  heir  orfspring  of  Heaven's  smile." 
Similar  eccentric  orthography  was  found  in  other 
autograph  papers  of  Mrs.  Serres. 

The  Attorney-General,  in  opposing  the  claim, 
alleged  that  the  whole  story  of  the  Duke  of  Cum- 
berland's marriage  to  Olive  Wilmot  was  a  concoc- 
tion from  beginning  to  end,  and  said  that  the  mere 
statement  of  the  Petitioner's  case  was  sufficient  to 
stamp  its  true  character.  That  its  folly  and  ab- 
surdity were  equal  to  its  audacity;  in  every  stage 
it  exposed  itself  to  conviction  by  the  simplest  tests. 
He  added  that  the  Petitioner  might  have  dwelt  so 
long  upon  documents  produced  and  fabricated  by 
others,  that,  with  her  memory  impaired  by  old  age, 


the  principle  of  veracity  might  have  been  poisoned, 
and  the  offices  of  imagination  and  memory  con- 
founded to  such  an  extent  that  she  really  believed 
that  things  had  been  done  and  said  in  her  presence 
which  were  in  fact  entirely  imaginary.  No  part 
of  her  story  was  corroborated  by  a  single  authentic 
document,  or  by  a  single  extrinsic  fact.  The 
forgery,  falsehood  and  fraud  of  the  case  were 
proved  in  many  ways.  The  explanations  were  as 
false  and  feeble  as  the  story  itself.  "I  cannot  of 
course,"  he  said,  "lay  bare  the  whole  history  of  the 
concoction  of  these  extraordinary  documents,  but 
there  are  circumstances  which  indicate  that  they 
were  concocted  by  Mrs.  Serres  herself." 

Having  commented  on  some  other  matters 
spoken  of,  but  regarding  which  no  evidence  was  ad- 
duced, he  proceeded  to  speak  of  the  alleged  wife 
of  Joseph  Wilmot  D.  D.,  the  Polish  Princess,  sis- 
ter of  Count  Poniatowski,  afterwards  elected  King 
of  Poland  (1764),  who  was  the  mother  of  his 
charming  daughter,  Olive.  "The  truth  is,"  said 
Sir  Roundell,  "that  both  the  Polish  Princess  and 
the  charming  daughter  were  pure  myths;  no  such 
persons  ever  existed — they  were  as  entirely  crea- 
tures of  the  imagination  as  Shakespeare's  Ferdi- 
nand and  Miranda." 

As  to  the  documents  produced  by  the  Petitioners 
he  remarked : 

"What  sort  of  documents  were  those  which  were  produced? 
The  internal  evidence  proved  that  they  were  the  most  ridicu- 


lous,  absurd,  preposterous  series  of  forgeries  that  the  per- 
verted ingenuity  of  man  ever  invented  .  .  .  they  were  all 
written  on  little  scraps  and  slips  of  paper,  such  as  no  human 
being  would  ever  have  used  for  the  purpose  of  recording 
transactions  of  this  kind,  and  it  would  be  proved  that  in  every 
one  of  these  pieces  of  paper  the  watermark  of  date  was  want- 

This  was  but  a  new  variant  of  the  remark 
made  by  the  Lord  Chief  Justice,  just  after  the  put- 
ting-in  of  the  alleged  marriage  Certificate  of  the 
Prince  of  Wales  and  Hannah  Lightf  oot : 

"The  Court  is,  as  I  understand,  asked  solemnly  to  declare, 
on  the  strength  of  two  certificates,  coming  I  know  not  whence, 
written  on  two  scraps  of  paper,  that  the  marriage,  the  only 
marriage  of  George  III  which  the  world  believes  to  have 
taken  place,  between  His  Majesty  and  Queen  Charlotte,  was 
an  invalid  marriage,  and  consequently  that  all  the  Sovereigns 
who  have  sat  on  the  throne  since  his  death,  including  Her 
present  Majesty,  were  not  entitled  to  sit  on  the  throne.  That 
is  the  conclusion  which  the  Court  is  asked  to  come  to  upon 
these  two  rubbishy  pieces  of  paper,  one  signed  'George  P.,' 
and  the  other  'George  Guelph.'  I  believe  them  to  be  gross 
and  rank  forgeries.  The  Court  has  no  difficulty  in  coming  to 
the  conclusion,  even  assuming  that  the  signatures  had  that 
character  of  genuineness  which  they  have  not,  that  what  is 
asserted  in  these  documents  has  not  the  slightest  foundation 
in  fact." 

With  this  view  the  Lord  Chief  Baron  and  the 
Judge-Ordinary  entirely  concurred,  the  former  ad- 
ding : 

the    declarations    of    Hannah    Lightfoot,    if    there 
ever  was  such  a  person,  cannot  be  received  in  evidence  on  the 


faith  of  these  documents  .  .  .  the  only  issues  for  the 
jury  are  the  issues  in  the  cause  and  this  is  not  an  issue  in 
the  cause,  but  an  incidental  issue.  ...  I  think  that  these 
documents,  which  the  Lord  Chief  Justice  has  treated  with  all 
the  respect  which  properly  belongs  to  them,  are  not  genuine." 

Before  the  Attorney  General  had  finished  the 
statement  of  his  case,  he  was  interrupted  by  the 
foreman  of  the  jury,  who  said  that  the  jury  were 
unanimously  of  opinion  that  there  was  no  necessity 
to  hear  any  further  evidence  as  they  were  convinced 
that  the  signatures  of  the  documents  were  not  gen- 
uine.    On  this  the  Lord  Chief  Justice  said : 

"You  share  the  opinion  which  my  learned  brothers  and  I 
have  entertained  for  a  long  time;  that  every  one  of  the  docu- 
ments is  spurious." 

As  the  Counsel  for  the  Petitioners  had  "felt  it  his 
duty  to  make  some  observations  to  the  jury  before 
they  delivered  their  verdict,"  and  had  made  them, 
the  Lord  Chief  Justice  summed  up.  Towards  the 
conclusion  of  his  summing-up  he  said,  in  speaking 
of  the  various  conflicting  stories  put  forth  by  Mrs. 

"In  each  of  the  claims  which  she  made  at  different  times, 
she  appealed  to  documents  in  her  possession  by  which  they 
were  supported.  What  was  the  irresistible  inference?  Why, 
that  documents  were  from  time  to  time  prepared  to  meet  the 
form  which  her  claims  from  time  to  time  assumed." 

The  jury,  without  hesitation,  found  that  they 
were  not  satisfied  "that  Olive  Serres,  the  mother  of 


Mrs.  Ryves,  was  the  legitimate  daughter  of  Henry 
Frederick  Duke  of  Cumberland  and  Olive  his  wife ; 
and  they  were  not  satisfied  that  Henry  Frederick, 
Duke  of  Cumberland,  was  lawfully  married  to 
Olive  Wilmot  on  the  4th  of  March  1767  .  .  " 
The  case  of  Mrs.  Serres  is  an  instance  of  how  a 
person,  otherwise  comparatively  harmless  but  af- 
flicted with  vanity  and  egotism,  may  be  led  away 
into  evil  courses,  from  which,  had  she  realised  their 
full  iniquity,  she  might  have  shrunk.  The  only 
thing  outside  the  case  we  have  been  considering, 
was  that  she  separated  from  her  husband ;  which  in- 
deed was  an  affliction  rather  than  a  crime.  She  had 
been  married  for  thirteen  years  and  had  borne  two 
children,  but  so  far  as  we  know  no  impropriety  was 
ever  alleged  against  her.  One  of  her  daughters  re- 
mained her  constant  companion  till  her  twenty- 
second  year  and  through  her  long  life  held  her  and 
her  memory  in  filial  devotion  and  respect.  The 
forethought,  labour  and  invention  which  she  de- 
voted to  the  fraud,  if  properly  and  honestly  used, 
might  have  won  for  her  a  noteworthy  place  in  the 
history  of  her  time.  But  as  it  was,  she  frittered 
away  in  criminal  work  her  good  opportunities  and 
great  talents,  and  ended  her  life  within  the  rules 
of  the  King's  Bench. 



I  FEEL  that  I  ought  to  begin  this  record  with 
an  apology  to  the  manes  of  a  great  and  fear- 
less scholar,  as  earnest  as  he  was  honest,  as 
open-minded  as  he  was  great-hearted.  I  do  so 
because  I  wish  to  do  what  an  unimportant  man  can 
after  the  lapse  of  centuries,  to  help  a  younger  gen- 
eration to  understand  what  such  a  man  as  I  write 
of  can  do  and  did  under  circumstances  not  possi- 
ble in  times  of  greater  enlightenment.  The  lesson 
which  the  story  can  tell  to  thinking  youth  cannot 
be  told  in  vain.  The  greatest  asset  which  worth 
has  in  this  world  is  the  irony  of  time.  Contem- 
poraneous opinion,  though  often  correct,  is  gener- 
ally on  the  meagre  side  of  appreciation — prac- 
tically always  so  with  regard  to  anything  new. 
Such  must  in  any  case  be  encountered  in  matters  of 
the  sixteenth  century  which  being  on  the  further 
side  of  an  age  of  discovery  and  reform  had  hard- 
ened almost  to  the  stage  of  ossification  the  beliefs 
and  methods  of  the  outgoing  order  of  things. 
Prejudice — especially  when  it  is  based  on  science 
and  religion — dies  hard:  the  very  spirit  whence 
originates  a  stage  of  progress  or  reform,  makes  its 
inherited  follower  tenacious  of  its  traditions  how- 



ever  short  they  may  be.  This  is  why  any  who,  in 
this  later  and  more  open  minded  age,  may  investi- 
gate the  intellectual  discoveries  of  the  past,  owe 
a  special  debt  in  the  way  of  justice  to  the  memories 
of  those  to  whom  such  fresh  light  is  due.  The 
name  and  story  of  the  individual  known  as  Para- 
celsus— scholar,  scientist,  open  minded  thinker  and 
teacher,  earnest  investigator  and  searcher  for  ele- 
mental truths — is  a  case  in  point.  Anyone  who 
contents  himself  with  accepting  the  judgment  of 
four  centuries  passed  upon  the  great  Swiss  thinker, 
who  had  rendered  famous  in  history  his  place  of 
birth,  his  canton  and  his  nation,  would  inevitably 
come  to  the  conclusion  that  he  was  merely  a  char- 
latan a  little  more  clever  than  others  of  his  kind; 
an  acceptor  of  all  manner  of  eccentric  beliefs  (in- 
cluding the  efficacy  of  spirits  and  demons  in  path- 
ological cases),  a  drunkard,  a  wastrel,  an  evil  liver, 
a  practiser  of  necromancy,  an  astrologer,  a  ma- 
gician, an  atheist,  an  alchemist — indeed  an  "ist"  of 
all  defamatory  kinds  within  the  terminology  of  the 
sixteenth  century  and  of  all  disputatious  church- 
men and  scientists  who  have  not  agreed  with  his 
theories  and  conclusions  ever  since. 

Let  us  begin  with  the  facts  of  his  life.  His 
name  was  Theophrastus  Bombast  von  Hohenheim, 
and  he  was  the  son  of  a  doctor  living  in  Einsiedeln 
in  the  canton  of  Schwyz,  named  Wilhelm  Bom- 
bast von  Hohenheim,  natural  son  of  a  Grand  Mas- 
ter of  the  Teutonic  Order.     He  was  born  in  1490. 


It  was  not  uncommon  for  a  man  of  that  age  who 
was  striving  to  make  a  name  for  himself,  to  assume 
some  nom  de  plume  or  de  guerre;  and  with  such  a 
family  record  as  his  own,  it  was  no  wonder  that 
on  the  threshold  of  his  life  the  young  Theophras- 
tus  did  so.  In  the  light  of  his  later  achievements, 
we  can  well  imagine  that  he  had  some  definite  pur- 
pose in  mind,  or  at  least  some  guiding  principle  of 
suggestiveness,  in  choosing  such  a  compound  word 
from  the  Greek  as  Paracelsus  (which  is  derived 
from  "para,"  meaning  before,  in  the  sense  of  su- 
perior to,  and  Celsus,  the  name  of  an  Epicurean 
philosopher  of  the  second  century.)  Celsus  ap- 
pears to  have  had  views  of  great  enlightenment  ac- 
cording to  the  thought  of  his  own  time.  Unhap- 
pily only  fragments  of  his  work  remain,  but  as  he 
was  a  follower  of  Epicurus  after  an  interval  of  be- 
tween four  and  five  centuries,  it  is  possible  to  get 
some  idea  of  his  main  propositions.  Like  Epi- 
curus he  stood  for  nature.  He  did  not  believe  in 
fatalism,  but  he  did  in  a  supreme  power.  He  was 
a  Platonist  and  held  that  there  was  no  truth  which 
was  against  nature.  It  is  easy  to  see  from  his  life 
and  work  that  Theophrastus  Bombast  von  Hohen- 
heim  shared  his  views.  His  intellectual  attitude 
was  that  of  a  true  scientist — denying  nothing  prima 
facie  but  investigating  all. 

"There  lives  more  faith  in  honest  doubt, 
Believe  me,  than  in  half  the  creeds." 


His  father  moved  in  1502  to  Villach  in  Carin- 
thia,  where  he  practised  medicine  till  his  death  in 
1534.  Theophrastus  was  a  precocious  boy;  after 
youthful  study  with  his  father,  he  entered  the 
University  of  Basel  when  he  was  about  sixteen, 
after  which  he  prosecuted  chemical  researches  un- 
der the  learned  Trithemius  Bishop  of  Sponheim 
who  had  written  on  the  subject  of  the  Great  elixir 
— the  common  subject  of  the  scientists  of  that  day, 
— and  at  Wurzburg.  From  thence  he  proceeded 
to  the  great  mines  in  the  Tyrol,  then  belonging  to 
the  Fugger  family.  Here  he  studied  geology  and 
its  kindred  branches  of  learning — especially  those 
dealing  with  effects  and  so  far  as  possible  with 
causes — metallurgy,  mineral  waters,  and  the  dis- 
eases of  and  accidents  to  mines  and  miners.  The 
theory  of  knowledge  which  he  deduced  from  these 
studies  was  that  we  must  learn  nature  from  nature. 

In  1527,  he  returned  to  Basel,  where  he  was  ap- 
pointed town  physician.  It  was  a  characteristic 
of  his  independence  and  of  his  mind,  method  and 
design,  that  he  lectured  in  the  language  of  the  place, 
German,  foregoing  the  Latin  tongue,  usual  up  to 
that  time  for  such  teaching.  He  did  not  shrink 
from  a  bold  criticism  of  the  medical  ideas  and 
methods  then  current.  The  effect  of  this  inde- 
pendence and  teaching  was  that  for  a  couple  of 
years  his  reputation  and  his  practice  increased 
wonderfully.  But  the  time  thus  passed  allowed 
his  enemies  not  only  to  see  the  danger  for  them  that 


lay  ahead,  but  to  take  such  action  as  they  could  to 
obviate  it.  Reactionary  forces  are  generally — if 
not  always — self -protective,  without  regard  to  the 
right  or  wrong  of  the  matter,  and  Paracelsus  be- 
gan to  find  that  the  self-interest  and  ignorance  of 
the  many  were  too  strong  for  him,  and  that  their 
unscrupulous  attacks  began  to  injure  his  work 
seriously.  He  was  called  conjurer,  necromancer, 
and  many  such  terms  of  obloquy.  Then  what  we 
may  call  his  "professional"  enemies  felt  themselves 
strong  enough  to  join  in  the  attack.  As  he  had 
kept  a  careful  eye  on  the  purity  of  medicines  in  use, 
the  apothecaries,  who,  in  those  days  worked  in  a 
smaller  field  than  now,  and  who  found  their 
commerce  more  productive  through  guile  than 
excellence,  became  almost  declared  opponents. 
Eventually  he  had  to  leave  Basel.  He  went  to 
Esslingen,  from  which  however  he  had  to  retire  at 
no  distant  period  from  sheer  want. 

Then  began  a  period  of  wandering  which  really 
lasted  for  the  last  dozen  years  of  his  life.  This 
time  was  mainly  one  of  learning  in  many  ways  of 
many  things.  The  ground  he  covered  must  have 
been  immense,  for  he  visited  Colmar,  Nurnberg, 
Appengall,  Zurich,  Augsburg,  Middelheim,  and 
travelled  in  Prussia,  Austria,  Hungary,  Egypt, 
Turkey,  Russia,  Tartary,  Italy,  the  Low  Countries 
and  Denmark.  In  Germany  and  Hungary  he  had 
a  bad  time,  being  driven  to  supply  even  the  bare 
necessaries  of  life  by  odd — any — means,  even  to 


availing  himself  of  the  credulity  of  others — cast- 
ing nativities,  telling  fortunes,  prescribing  remedies 
for  animals  of  the  farm  such  as  cows  and  pigs,  and 
recovering  stolen  property;  such  a  life  indeed  as 
was  the  lot  of  a  mediaeval  "tramp."  On  the  other 
hand,  as  a  contra  he  did  worthy  work  as  a  military 
surgeon  in  Italy,  the  Low  Countries  and  Denmark. 
When  he  got  tired  of  his  wandering  life,  he  settled 
down  in  Salsburg,  in  1541,  under  the  care  and  pro- 
tection of  the  Archbishop  Ernst.  But  he  did  not 
long  survive  the  prospect  of  rest;  he  died  later  in 
the  same  year.  The  cause  of  his  death  is  not 
known  with  any  certainty,  but  we  can  guess  that 
he  had  clamorous  enemies  as  well  as  strong  uphold- 
ing from  the  conflicting  causes  given.  Some  said 
that  he  died  from  the  effects  of  a  protracted  de- 
bauch, others  that  he  was  murdered  by  physicians 
and  apothecaries,  or  their  agents,  who  had  thrown 
him  over  a  cliff.  In  proof  of  this  story  it  was  said 
that  the  surgeons  had  found  a  flaw  or  fracture  in 
his  skull  which  must  have  been  produced  during 

He  was  buried  in  the  churchyard  of  Saint  Se- 
bastian; but  two  centuries  later,  1752,  his  bones 
were  moved  to  the  porch  of  the  church,  and  a  mon- 
ument erected  over  them. 

His  first  book  was  printed  in  Augsburg  in  1526. 
His  real  monument  was  the  collection  of  his  com- 
plete writings  so  far  as  was  possible,  the  long 
work  of  Johann  Huser  made  in  1589-91.     This 


great  work  was  published  in  German,  from  printed 
copy  supplemented  by  such  manuscript  as  could  be 
discovered.     Then  and  ever  since  there  has  been  a 
perpetual  rain  of  statements  against  him  and  his 
beliefs.     Most  of  them  are  too  silly  for  words ;  but 
it  is  a  little  disconcerting  to  find  one  writer  of  some 
distinction  repeating  so  late  as  1856  all  the  malig- 
nant twaddle  of  three  centuries,  saying  amongst 
other  things  that  he  believed  in  the  transmutation 
of  metals  and  the  possibility  of  an  elixir  vital,  that 
he  boasted  of  having  spirits  at  his  command,  one 
of  which  he  kept  imprisoned  in  the  hilt  of  his  sword 
and  another  in  a  jewel;  that  he  could  make  any  one 
live  forever;  that  he  was   proud  to  be  called  a 
magician ;  and  had  boasted  of  having  a  regular  cor- 
respondence  with   Galen   in   Hell.     We   read   in 
sensational  journals  and  magazines  of  to-day  about 
certain  living  persons  having — or  saying  that  they 
have — communion   in   the   shape    of    "interviews" 
with  the  dead;  but  this  is  too  busy  an  age  for  un- 
necessary contradictions  and  so  such  assertions  are 
allowed  to  pass.     The  same  indifference  may  now 
and  again  have  been  exhibited  in  the  case  of  men 
like  Paracelsus. 

Some  things  said  of  him  may  be  accepted  as  be- 
ing partially  time,  for  his  was  an  age  of  mysticism, 
occultism,  astrology,  and  all  manner  of  strange  and 
weird  beliefs.  For  instance  it  is  alleged  that  he 
held  that  life  is  an  emanation  from  the  stars;  that 
the  sun  governed  the  heart,  the  moon  the  brain, 


Jupiter  the  liver,  Saturn  the  gall,  Mercury  the 
lungs,  Mars  the  bile,  Venus  the  loins;  that  in  each 
stomach  is  a  demon,  that  the  belly  is  the  grand 
laboratory  where  all  the  ingredients  are  appor- 
tioned and  mixed;  and  that  gold  could  cure  ossi- 
fication of  the  heart. 

Is  it  any  wonder  that  when  in  this  age  after  cen- 
turies of  progress  such  absurd  things  are  current 
Paracelsus  is  shewn  in  contemporary  and  later  por- 
traits with  a  jewel  in  his  hand  transcribed  Azoth — 
the  name  given  to  his  familiar  daemon. 

Those  who  repeat  ad  nauseam  the  absurd  stories 
of  his  alchemy  generally  omit  to  mention  his  gen- 
uine discoveries  and  to  tell  of  the  wide  scope  of  his 
teaching.  That  he  used  mercury  and  opium  for 
healing  purposes  at  a  time  when  they  were  con- 
demned ;  that  he  did  all  he  could  to  stop  the  practice 
of  administering  the  vile  electuaries  of  the  medi- 
aeval pharmacopoeia;  that  he  was  one  of  the  first 
to  use  laudanum;  that  he  perpetually  held — to  his 
own  detriment — that  medical  science  should  not  be 
secret;  that  he  blamed  strongly  the  fashion  of  his 
time  of  accounting  for  natural  phenomena  by  the 
intervention  of  spirits  or  occult  forces ;  that  he  dep- 
recated astrology ;  that  he  insisted  on  the  proper  in- 
vestigation of  the  properties  of  drugs  and  that  they 
should  be  used  more  simply  and  in  smaller  doses. 
To  these  benefits  and  reforms  his  enemies  answered 
that  he  had  made  a  pact  with  the  devil.  For  re- 
ward of  his  labours,  his  genius,  his  fearless  strug- 


gle  for  human  good  he  had — with  the  exception  of 
a  few  spells  of  prosperity — only  penury,  want,  ma- 
licious ill-fame  and  ceaseless  attacks  by  the  pro- 
fessors of  religion  and  science.  He  was  an  original 
investigator  of  open  mind,  of  great  ability  and  ap- 
plication, and  absolutely  fearless.  He  was  cen- 
turies ahead  of  his  time.  We  can  all  feel  grateful 
to  that  French  writer  who  said: 

"Tels  sont  les  services  eminents  que  Paracelse  a  rendu  a 
l'humanite  souffrante,  pour  laquelle  il  montra  toujours  le 
devouement  le  plus  desinteresse;  s'il  en  fut  mal  recom- 
pense pendant  sa  vie  que  sa  memoire  au  moins  soit  honoree." 


THE  individual  known  to  history  as  Comte 
Cagliostro,  or  more  familiarly  as  Caglios- 
tro,  was  of  the  family  name  of  Balsamo  and 
was  received  into  the  Church  under  the  saintly 
name  of  Joseph.  The  familiarity  of  history  is  an 
appanage  of  greatness  in  some  form.  Greatness 
is  in  no  sense  a  quality  of  worth  or  morality.  It 
simply  points  to  publicity,  and  if  unsuccessful,  to 
infamy.  Joseph  Balsamo  was  of  poor  parentage 
in  the  town  of  Palermo,  Sicily,  and  was  born  in 
1743.  In  his  youth  he  did  not  exhibit  any  talent 
whatever,  such  volcanic  forces  as  he  had  being  en- 
tirely used  in  wickedness — base,  purposeless,  sor- 
did wickedness,  from  which  devolved  no  benefit 
to  any  one — even  to  the  the  criminal  instigator.  In 
order  to  achieve  greatness,  or  publicity,  in  any 
form,  some  remarkable  quality  is  necessary;  Joseph 
Balsamo's  claim  was  based  not  on  isolated  qualities 
but  on  a  union  of  many.  In  fact  he  appears  to 
have  had  every  necessary  ingredient  for  this  kind 
of  success — except  one,  courage.  In  his  case  how- 
ever, the  lacking  ingredient  in  the  preparation  of 
his  hell-broth  was  supplied  by  luck;  though  such 
luck  had  to  be  paid  for  at  the  devil's  usual  price — 




failure  at  the  last.  His  biographers  put  his  lead- 
ing characteristics  in  rather  a  negative  than  a  posi- 
tive way — "indolent  and  unruly";  but  as  time  went 
on  the  evil  became  more  marked — even  ferae 
naturae,  poisonous  growths,  and  miasmatic  con- 
ditions have  to  manifest  themselves  or  to  cease  to 
prevail.  In  the  interval  between  young  boyhood 
and  coming  manhood,  Balsamo's  nature — such  as  it 
was — began  to  develop,  unscrupulousness  working 
on  an  imaginative  basis  being  always  a  leading 
characteristic.  The  unruly  boy  shewed  powers  of 
becoming  an  unruly  man,  fear  being  the  only  re- 
straining force ;  and  indolence  giving  way  to  wick- 
edness. When  he  was  about  fifteen  he  was  sent  to 
a  monastery  to  learn  chemistry  and  pharmacy. 
The  boy  who  had  manifested  a  tendency  to  "grow 
downwards"  found  the  beginning  of  a  kind  of  suc- 
cess in  these  studies  in  which,  to  the  surprise  of  all, 
he  exhibited  a  form  of  aptitude.  Chemistry  has 
certain  charms  to  a  mind  like  his,  for  in  its  work- 
ing are  many  strange  surprises  and  lurid  effects 
not  unattended  with  entrancing  fears.  These  he 
used  before  long  to  his  own  pleasure  in  the  concern 
of  others.  When  he  was  expelled  from  the  re- 
ligious house  he  led  a  dissolute  and  criminal  life  in 
Palermo.  Amongst  other  wickednesses  he  robbed 
his  uncle  and  forged  his  will.  Here  too,  he  com- 
mitted a  crime,  not  devoid  of  a  certain  humorous 
aspect,  but  which  had  a  reflex  action  on  Ms  own 
life.     Under  promise  of  revealing  a  hidden  treas- 


ure,  he  persuaded  a  goldworker,  one  Morano,  to 
give  him  custody  of  a  quantity  of  his  wares.  It 
was  what,  in  criminal  slang  is  called  "a  put-up  job," 
and  was  worked  by  a  gang  of  young  thieves  with 
Balsamo  at  their  head.  Having  filled  the  soft 
head  of  the  foolish  goldsmith  with  ideas  to  suit  his 
purpose,  Joseph  brought  him  on  a  treasure  hunt 
into  a  cave  where  he  was  shortly  surrounded  by  the 
gang  dressed  as  fiends,  who,  in  the  victim's  paral- 
ysis of  fear,  robbed  him  at  their  ease  of  some  sixty 
ounces  of  gold.  Morano,  as  might  have  been  ex- 
pected, was  not  satisfied  with  the  proceedings  and 
vowed  vengeance  which  he  tried  to  effect  later. 
Balsamo's  pusillanimity  worked  hand  in  hand  with 
Morano's  vindictiveness,  to  the  effect  that  the  cul- 
prit incontinently  absconded  from  his  native  town. 
He  conferred  the  benefit  of  his  presence  on  Mes- 
sina where  he  was  naturally  attracted  to  a  noted 
alchemist  called  Althotas,  to  whom  he  became  a 
sort  of  disciple.  Althotas  was  a  man  of  great 
learning,  according  to  the  measure  of  that  time  and 
his  own  occupation.  He  was  skilled  in  Eastern 
tongues  and  an  adept  occultist.  It  was  said  that 
he  had  actually  visited  Mecca  and  Medina  in  the 
disguise  of  an  Oriental  prince.  Having  attached 
himself  to  Althotas,  Cagliostro  went  with  him  to 
Malta  where  he  persuaded  the  Grand  Master  of 
the  Knights  to  supply  them  with  a  laboratory  for 
the  manufacture  of  gold,  and  also  with  letters  of 


introduction  which  he  afterwards  used  with  much 
benefit  to  himself. 

From  Malta  he  went  to  Rome  where  he  employed 
himself  in  forging  engravings.  Like  other  crim- 
inals, great  and  small,  Comte  Alessandro  Caglios- 
tro — as  he  had  now  become  by  his  own  creation  of 
nobility — had  a  faculty  of  working  hard  and  intel- 
ligently so  long  as  the  end  he  aimed  at  was  to  be 
accomplished  by  crooked  means.  Work  in  the  ordi- 
nary ways  of  honesty  he  loathed  and  shunned ;  but 
work  as  a  help  to  his  nefarious  schemes  seemed  to 
be  a  jojr  to  him.  Then  he  set  himself  up  as  a  won- 
der-worker, improving  as  he  went  on  all  the  cus- 
toms and  tricks  of  that  calling.  He  sold  an  elixir 
which  he  said  had  all  the  potency  usually  attrib- 
uted to  such  compounds  but  with  an  added  efficacy 
all  its  own.  He  pretended  to  be  able  to  transmute 
metals  and  to  make  himself  invisible ;  indeed  to  per- 
form all  the  wonders  of  the  alchemist,  the  "cheap 
jack,"  and  the  charlatan.  At  Rome  he  became 
acquainted  with  and  married  a  very  beautiful 
woman,  Lorenza  de  Feliciani,  daughter  of  a  lace- 
maker,  round  whom  later  biographers  weave  ro- 
mances. According  to  contemporary  accounts  she 
seems  to  have  been  dowered  with  just  such  quali- 
ties as  were  useful  in  such  a  life  as  she  had  entered 
on.  In  addition  to  great  and  unusual  beauty  she 
was  graceful,  passionate,  seductive,  clever,  plau- 
sible, soothing,  and  attractive  in  all  ways  dear  and 


convincing  to  men.  She  must  have  had  some  win- 
ning charm  which  has  lasted  beyond  her  time,  for 
a  hundred  years  afterwards  we  find  so  level-headed 
a  writer  as  Dr.  Charles  Mackay  crediting  her,  quite 
unwarrantably  with,  amongst  other  good  qualities, 
being  a  faithful  wife.  Her  life  certainly  after  her 
marriage  was  such  that  faithfulness  in  any  form 
was  one  of  the  last  things  to  expect  in  her.  Her 
husband  was  nothing  less  than  a  swindler  of  a  pro- 
tean kind.  He  had  had  a  great  number  of  aliases 
before  he  finally  fixed  on  Comte  de  Cagliostro  as 
a  nomine  de  guerre.  He  called  himself  succes- 
sively Chevalier  de  Fischio,  Marquis  de  Melina  (or 
Melissa),  Marquis  de  Pellegrini,  Comte  de  Saint- 
German,  Baron  de  Belmonte;  together  with  such 
names  as  Fenix,  Anna,  Harat.  He  wrote  a  work 
somewhat  of  the  nature  of  a  novel  called  Le  Grand 
Cophte — which  he  found  useful  later  when  he  was 
pushing  his  scheme  of  a  sort  of  new  Freemasonry. 
After  his  marriage  he  visited  several  countries, 
Egypt,  Arabia,  Persia,  Poland,  Russia,  Greece, 
Germany ;  as  well  as  such  towns  as  Naples,  Palermo, 
Rhodes,  Strasbourg,  Paris,  London,  Lisbon, 
Vienna,  Venice,  Madrid,  Brussels — in  fact  any 
place  where  many  fools  were  crowded  into  a  small 
space.  In  many  of  these  he  found  use  for  the 
introductory  letters  of  the  Grand  Master  of  the 
Knights  of  Malta,  as  well  as  those  of  other  dupes 
from  whom  it  was  his  habit  to  secure  such  letters 
before  the  inevitable  crash  came.     Wherever  he 


travelled  he  was  accustomed  to  learn  all  he  could 
of  the  manners,  customs  and  facts  of  each  place 
he  was  in,  thus  accumulating  a  vast  stock  of  a  cer- 
tain form  of  knowledge  which  he  found  most  useful 
in  his  chosen  occupation — deceit.  With  regard  to 
the  last  he  utilised  every  form  of  human  credulity 
which  came  under  his  notice.  The  latter  half  of 
the  eighteenth  century  was  the  very  chosen  time  of 
strange  beliefs.  Occultism  became  a  fashion,  espe- 
cially amongst  the  richer  classes,  with  the  result  that 
every  form  of  swindle  came  to  the  fore.  At  this 
time  Cagliostro,  then  nearing  his  fortieth  year,  be- 
gan to  have  a  widespread  reputation  for  marvellous 
cures.  As  mysticism  in  all  sorts  of  forms  had  a 
vogue,  he  used  all  the  tricks  of  the  cult,  gathering 
them  from  various  countries,  especially  France  and 
Germany,  where  the  fashion  was  pronounced.  For 
this  trickery  he  used  all  his  knowledge  of  the  East 
and  all  the  picturesque  aids  to  credulity  which  he 
had  picked  up  during  his  years  of  wandering;  and 
for  his  "patter,"  such  medical  terminology  as  he 
had  learned — he  either  became  a  doctor  or  invented 
a  title  for  himself.  This  he  interlarded  with 
scraps  of  various  forms  of  fraudulent  occultism  and 
all  sorts  of  suggestive  images  of  eastern  quasi- 
religious  profligacy.  He  took  much  of  the  imagery 
which  he  used  in  his  rituals  of  fraud  from  records 
of  ancient  Egypt.  This  was  a  pretty  safe  ground 
for  his  purpose,  for  in  his  time  the  Egypt  of  the 
past  was  a  sealed  book.     It  was  only  in  1799  that 


the  Rosetta  stone  was  discovered,  and  more  than 
ten  years  from  then  before  Dr.  Young  was  able 
to  translate  its  three  inscriptions — Hieroglyphic 
Demotic  and  Greek — whence  Hieroglyphic  knowl- 
edge had  its  source.  Omne  ignotum  pro  magnifico 
might  well  serve  as  a  motto  for  all  occultism,  true  or 
false.  Cagliostro,  whose  business  it  was  to  deceive 
and  mislead,  understood  this  and  took  care  that  in 
his  cabalistic  forms  Egyptian  signs  were  largely 
mixed  with  the  pentagon,  the  signs  of  the  Zodiac, 
and  other  mysterious  symbols  in  common  use.  His 
object  was  primarily  to  catch  the  eye  and  so  arrest 
the  intelligence  of  any  whom  he  wished  to  impress. 
For  this  purpose  he  went  about  gorgeously  dressed 
and  with  impressive  appointments.  In  Germany 
for  instance  he  always  drove  in  a  carriage  with  four 
horses  with  courier  and  equerries  in  striking  liveries. 
Happily  there  is  extant  a  pen  picture  of  him  by 
Comte  de  Beugnot  who  met  him  in  Paris  at  the 
house  of  the  Comtesse  de  la  Motte : 

"of  medium  height  and  fairly  fat,  of  olive  colour,  with  short 
neck  and  round  face,  big  protruberant  eyes,  a  snub  nose  with 
open  nostrils." 

This  gives  of  him  anything  but  an  attractive  pic- 
ture; but  yet  M.  de  Beugnot  says:  "he  made  an 
impression  on  women  whenever  he  came  into  a 
room."  Perhaps  his  clothing  helped,  for  it  was  not 
of  a  commonplace  kind.  De  Beugnot  who  was 
manifestly  a  careful  and  intelligent  observer  again 
comes  to  our  aid  with  his  pen: 


"He  wore  a  coiffure  new  in  France;  his  hair  parted  in  sev- 
eral little  cadenottes  (queues  or  tresses)  uniting  at  the  back 
of  the  head  in  the  form  known  as  a  'catogan'  (hair  clubbed 
or  bunched).  A  dress,  French  fashion,  of  iron  grey,  laced 
with  gold,  scarlet  waistcoat  broidered  with  bold  point  de  spain, 
red  breeches,  a  basket-hilted  sword  and  a  hat  with  white 
plumes  I" 

Aided  by  these  adjuncts  he  was  a  great  success 
in  Paris  whither  he  returned  in  1785.  As  an  im- 
postor he  knew  his  business  and  played  "the  game" 
well.  When  he  was  at  work  he  brought  to  bear 
the  influence  of  all  his  "properties,"  amongst  them  a 
tablecloth  embroidered  with  cabalistic  signs  in 
scarlet  and  the  symbols  of  the  Rosy  Cross  of  high 
degree;  the  same  mysterious  emblems  marked  the 
globe  without  which  no  wizard's  atelier  is  complete. 

Here  too  were  various  little  Egyptian  figures — 
"ushabtui"  he  would  doubtless  have  called  them  had 
the  word  been  in  use  in  his  day.  From  these  he 
kept  his  dupes  at  a  distance,  guarding  carefully 
against  any  discovery.  He  evidently  did  not  fear 
to  hurt  the  religious  susceptibilities  of  any  of  his 
votaries,  for  not  only  were  the  crucifix  and  other 
emblems  of  the  kind  placed  amongst  the  curios 
of  his  ritual,  but  he  made  his  invocation  in  the  form 
of  a  religious  ceremony,  going  down  on  his  knees 
and  in  all  ways  cultivating  the  emotions  of  those 
round  him.  He  was  aided  by  a  young  woman 
whom  he  described  as  pure  as  an  angel  and  of  great 
sensibility.     The  said  young  person  kept  her  blue 


eyes  fixed  on  a  globe  full  of  water.  Then  he  pro- 
ceeded to  expound  the  Great  Secret  which  he  told 
his  hearers  had  been  the  same  since  the  beginning  of 
things  and  whose  mystery  had  been  guarded  by  Tem- 
plars of  the  Rosy  Cross,  by  Magicians,  by  Egyp- 
tians and  the  like.  He  had  claimed,  as  the  Comte 
Saint-German  said,  that  he  had  already  existed  for 
many  centuries;  that  he  was  a  contemporary  of 
Christ;  and  that  he  had  predicted  His  crucifixion 
by  the  Jews.  As  statements  of  this  kind  were  made 
mainly  for  the  purpose  of  selling  the  elixir  which 
he  peddled,  it  may  easily  be  imagined  that  he  did 
not  shrink  from  lying  or  blasphemy  when  such 
seemed  to  suit  his  purpose.  Daring  and  reckless- 
ness in  his  statements  seemed  to  further  his  business 
success,  so  prophecy — or  rather  boastings  of  proph- 
ecy after  the  event — became  part  of  the  great  fraud. 
Amongst  other  things  he  said  that  he  had  predicted 
the  taking  of  the  Bastille.  Such  things  shed  a  little 
light  on  the  methods  of  such  impostors,  and  help 
to  lay  bare  the  roots  or  principles  through  which 
they  flourish. 

After  his  Parisian  success  he  made  a  prolonged 
tour  in  France.  In  la  Vendee  he  boasted  of  some 
fresh  miracle — of  his  own  doing — on  each  day ;  and 
at  Lyons  the  boasting  was  repeated.  Of  course  he 
occasionally  had  bad  times,  for  now  and  again  even 
the  demons  on  whose  acquaintance  and  help  he 
prided  himself  did  not  work.  In  London  after 
1772,  things  had  become  so  bad  with  him  that  he  had 


to  work  as  a  house  painter  under  his  own  name. 
Whatever  may  have  been  his  skill  in  his  art  this 
was  probably  about  the  only  honest  work  he  ever 
did.  He  did  not  stick  to  it  for  long  however,  for 
four  years  afterwards  he  lost  three  thousand  pounds 
by  frauds  of  others  by  whom  he  was  introduced  to 
fictitious  lords  and  ladies.  Here  too  he  underwent 
a  term  of  imprisonment  for  debt. 

Naturally  such  an  impostor  found  in  Freema- 
sonry, which  is  a  secret  cult,  a  way  of  furthering 
his  ends.  With  the  aid  of  his  wife,  who  all 
through  their  life  together  seems  to  have  worked 
with  him,  he  founded  a  new  branch  of  freemasonry 
in  which  a  good  many  rules  of  that  wonderful 
organisation  were  set  at  defiance.  As  the  purpose 
of  the  new  cult  was  to  defraud,  its  net  was  enlarged 
by  taking  women  into  the  body.  The  name  used 
for  it  was  the  Grand  Egyptian  Lodge — he  being 
himself  the  head  of  it  under  the  title  of  the  Cophte 
and  his  wife  the  Grand  Priestess.  In  the  ritual 
were  some  appalling  ceremonies,  and  as  these  made 
eventually  for  profitable  publicity,  the  scheme  was 
a  great  success — and  the  elixir  sold  well.  This 
elixir  was  the  backbone  of  his  revenue ;  and  indeed 
it  would  have  been  well  worthy  of  success  if  it  had 
been  all  that  he  claimed  for  it.  Dispensers  of 
elixirs  are  not  usually  backward  in  proclaiming  the 
virtues  of  their  wares;  but  in  his  various  settings 
forth  Cagliostro  went  further  than  others.  He 
claimed  not  only  to  restore  youth  and  health  and 


to  make  them  perpetual,  but  to  restore  lost  inno- 
cence and  effect  a  whole  moral  regeneration.  No 
wonder  that  he  achieved  success  and  that  money 
rolled  in!  And  no  wonder  that  women,  especially 
of  the  upper  classes,  followed  him  like  a  flock  of 
sheep !  No  wonder  that  a  class  rich,  idle,  pleasure- 
loving",  and  fond  of  tasting  and  testing  new  sensa- 
tions, found  thrilling  moments  in  the  great  impos- 
tor's melange  of  mystery,  religion,  fear,  and  hope ; 
of  spirit-rapping  and  a  sort  of  "black  mass"  in 
which  Christianity  and  Paganism  mingled  freely, 
and  where  life  and  death,  good  and  evil,  whirled 
together  in  a  maddening  dance. 

It  was  not,  however,  through  his  alleged  sorcery 
that  Cagliostro  crept  into  a  place  in  history;  but 
by  the  association  of  his  name  with  a  sordid  crime 
which  involved  the  names  of  some  of  the  great 
ones  of  the  earth.  The  story  of  the  Queen's  Neck- 
lace, though  he  was  acquitted  at  the  trial  which 
concluded  it,  will  be  remembered  when  the  vapour- 
ings  of  the  unscrupulous  quack  who  had  escaped  a 
thousand  penalties  justly  earned,  have  been  long 
forgotten.  Such  is  the  irony  of  history!  The 
story  of  the  necklace  involved  Marie  Antoinette, 
Cardinal  Prince  de  Rohan,  Comte  de  la  Motte — 
an  officer  of  the  private  guard  of  "Monsieur"  (the 
Comte  d'Artois),  his  wife  Jeanne  de  Valois,  de- 
scended from  Henry  II  through  Saint-Remy,  his 
natural  son  and  Nicole  de  Savigny.  Louis  XV 
had  ordered  from  MM.  Boemer  et  Bassange,  jew- 


ellers  to  the  Court  of  France,  a  beautiful  necklace 
of  extraordinary  value  for  his  mistress  Madame  du 
Barry,  but  died  before  it  was  completed.  The  du 
Barry  was  exiled  by  his  successor,  so  the  necklace 
remained  on  the  hands  of  its  makers.  It  was,  how- 
ever, of  so  great  intrinsic  value  that  they  could  not 
easily  find  a  purchaser.  They  offered  it  to  Marie 
Antoinette  for  one  million  eight  hundred  thousand 
livres;  but  the  price  was  too  high  even  for  a  queen, 
and  the  necklace  remained  on  hand.  So  Boemer 
showed  it  to  Madame  de  la  Motte  and  offered  to 
give  a  commission  on  the  sale  to  whoever  should 
find  a  buyer.  She  induced  her  husband,  Comte  de 
la  Motte,  to  join  with  her  in  a  plot  to  accomplish 
the  sale.  De  la  Motte  was  a  friend  of  Cagliostro, 
and  he  too  was  brought  in  as  he  had  influence  with 
the  Cardinal  Prince  de  Rohan  whom  they  looked  on 
as  a  likely  person  to  be  of  service.  He  had  his  own 
ambitions  to  acquire  influence  over  the  queen  and 
use  her  for  political  purposes  as  Mazarin  had  used 
Anne  of  Austria.  De  Rohan  was  then  a  man  of 
fifty — not  considered  much  of  an  age  in  these  days, 
but  the  Cardinal's  life  had  not  made  for  compara- 
tive longevity.  He  was  in  fact  something  of  that 
class  of  fool  which  has  no  peer  in  folly — an  old 
fool ;  and  Jeanne  de  la  Motte  fooled  him  to  the  top 
of  his  bent.  She  pretended  to  him  that  Marie  An- 
toinette was  especially  friendly  to  her,  and  shewed 
him  letters  from  the  queen  to  herself  all  of  which 
had  been  forged  for  the  purpose.     As  at  this  time 


Madame  de  la  Motte  had  borrowed  or  otherwise 
obtained  from  the  Cardinal  a  hundred  and  twenty 
thousand  livres,  she  felt  assured  he  could  be  used 
for  the  contemplated  fraud.  She  probably  had  not 
ever  even  spoken  to  the  queen  but  she  was  not 
scrupulous  in  such  a  small  matter  as  one  more  un- 
truth. She  finally  persuaded  him  that  Marie  An- 
toinette wished  to  purchase  the  necklace  through 
his  agency,  he  acting  for  her  and  buying  it  in  her 
name.  To  aid  in  the  scheme  she  got  her  pet  forger, 
Retaux  de  Vilette,  to  prepare  a  receipt  signed 
"Marie  Antoinette  de  France."  The  Cardinal  fell 
into  the  trap  and  obtained  the  jewel,  giving  to 
Boemer  four  bills  due  successively  at  intervals  of 
six  months.  At  Versailles  de  Rohan  gave  the 
casket  containing  the  necklace  to  Madame  de  la 
Motte,  who  in  his  presence  handed  it  to  a  valet  of 
the  royal  household  for  conveyance  to  the  queen. 
The  valet  was  none  other  than  the  forger  Retaux  de 
Vilette.  Madame  de  la  Motte  sent  to  the  Cardinal 
a  letter  by  the  same  forger  asking  him  to  meet  her 
(the  queen)  in  the  shrubbery  at  Versailles  between 
eleven  o'clock  and  midnight.  To  complete  the  de- 
ception a  girl  was  procured,  one  Olivia,  who  in 
figure  resembled  the  queen  sufficiently  to  pass  for 
her  in  the  dusk.  The  meeting  between  de  Rohan 
and  the  alleged  queen  was  held  at  the  Baths  of 
Apollo — to  the  deception  and  temporary  satisfac- 
tion of  the  ambitious  churchman.  When  the  first 
instalment  for  the  purchase  of  the  necklace  was  due, 


Boemer  tried  to  find  out  if  the  queen  really  had 
possession  of  the  necklace — which  had  in  the  mean- 
while been  brought  to  London,  it  was  said,  by 
Comte  de  la  Motte.  As  Boemer  could  not  man- 
age to  get  an  audience  with  the  queen  he  came  to 
the  conclusion  that  he  had  been  robbed,  and  made 
the  matter  public.  This  was  reported  to  M.  de 
Breteuil,  Master  of  the  King's  household,  and  an 
enemy  of  de  Rohan.  De  Breteuil  saw  the  queen 
secretly  and  they  agreed  to  act  in  concert  in  the 
matter.  Louis  XVI  asked  for  details  of  the  pur- 
chase from  Boemer,  who  told  the  truth  so  far  as 
he  knew  it,  producing  as  a  proof  the  alleged  receipt 
of  the  queen.  Louis  pointed  out  to  him  that  he 
should  have  known  that  the  queen  did  not  sign 
after  the  manner  of  the  document.  He  then  asked 
de  Rohan,  who  was  Grand  Almoner  of  France,  for 
his  written  justification.  This  being  supplied,  he 
had  him  arrested  and  sent  to  the  Bastille.  Madame 
de  la  Motte  accused  Cagliostro  of  the  crime,  alleg- 
ing that  he  had  persuaded  de  Rohan  to  buy  the 
necklace.  She  was  also  arrested  as  were  Retaux  de 
Vilette,  and,  later  on  at  Brussels,  Olivia,  who  threw 
some  light  on  the  fraud.  The  King  brought  the 
whole  matter  before  Parliament,  which  ordered  a 
prosecution.  As  the  result  of  the  trial  which  fol- 
lowed, Comte  de  la  Motte  and  Retaux  de  Vilette 
were  banished  for  life ;  Jeanne  de  la  Motte  was  con- 
demned to  make  amende  honourable,  to  be  whipped 
and  branded  with  V  on  both  shoulders,  and  to  be 


imprisoned  for  life.  Olivia  and  Cagliostro  were 
acquitted.  The  Cardinal  was  cleared  of  all  charges. 
Nothing  seems  to  have  been  done  for  the  poor  jew- 
ellers, who,  after  all,  had  received  more  substantial 
injury  than  any  of  the  others,  having  lost  nearly 
two  million  livres. 

After  the  affair  of  the  Necklace,  Cagliostro  spent 
a  time  in  the  Bastille  and  when  free,  after  some 
months,  he  and  his  wife  travelled  again  in  Europe. 
In  1789  he  was  arrested  at  Rome  by  order  of  the 
Inquisition  and  condemned  to  death  as  a  Free- 
mason. The  punishment  was  later  commuted  to 
perpetual  imprisonment.  He  ended  his  days  in  the 
Chateau  de  Saint-Leon  near  Rome.  His  wife  was 
condemned  to  perpetual  seclusion  and  died  in  the 
Convent  of  Sainte-Appolive. 


ALTHOUGH  Frederic-Antoine  Mesmer 
made  an  astonishing  discovery  which,  hav- 
ing been  tested  and  employed  in  thera- 
peutics for  a  century,  is  accepted  as  a  contribution 
to  science,  he  is  included  in  the  list  of  impostors 
because,  however  sound  his  theory  was,  he  used  it 
in  the  manner  or  surrounded  with  the  atmosphere 
of  imposture.  Indeed  the  implement  which  he  used 
in  his  practice,  and  which  made  him  famous  in 
fashionable  and  idle  society,  was  set  forth  as  having 
magic  properties.  He  belonged  to  the  same  period 
as  Cagliostro,  having  been  born  but  nine  years 
before  him,  in  1734,  in  Itzmang,  Suabia;  but  the 
impostor  pure  and  simple  easily  picked  up  the  dif- 
ference by  beginning  his  life-work  earlier  and  fol- 
lowing it  quicker  with  regard  to  results.  Mesmer 
was  not  in  any  sense  a  precocious  person.  He  was 
thirty-two  years  of  age  when  he  took  his  degree  of 
Doctor  of  Medicine  at  Vienna  in  1765.  However 
he  had  already  chosen  his  subject,  animal  magnetism 
as  allied  with  medical  therapeutics.  His  early 
script  under  the  title  De  planetarum  influoci  is 
looked  on  as  a  legal  reminiscence  of  judicial  astron- 
omy.    He  left  Vienna  because,  he  said,  of  a  cabal 



against  him,  and  travelled  in  Europe,  particularly 
in  Switzerland,  before  he  went  to  Paris  to  seek  his 
fortune.  This  was  in  1778,  when  he  was  some 
forty-four  years  of  age;  his  reputation,  which  had 
been  growing  all  the  time,  preceded  him.  He  was 
then  a  man  of  fine  appearance,  tall  and  important- 
looking  and  conveying  a  sense  of  calm  power.  He 
produced  much  sensation  and  was  at  once  credited — 
not  without  his  own  will  or  intention — with  magic 
power.  He  posed  as  a  benefactor  of  humanity;  a 
position  which  was  at  once  conceded  to  him,  partly 
owing  to  the  fact  that  an  extraordinary  atmosphere 
of  calm  seemed  to  surround  him,  which  with  his 
natural  air  of  assurance  founded  on  self-belief,  was 
able  to  convey  to  his  patients  a  sense  of  hope  which 
was  of  course  very  helpful  in  cases  of  nervous  fail- 
ure and  depression.  He  settled  in  the  Hotel  Bouret 
near  the  Place  Vendome  and  so  in  the  heart  of 
Paris;  and  at  once  undertook  the  treatment  of 
patients  hitherto  deemed  incurable.  Fashion  took 
up  the  new  medical  "craze"  or  "sensation,"  and  he 
at  once  became  the  vogue.  It  was  at  this  time  of 
his  life  that  Mesmer  came  to  the  parting  of  the 
ways  between  earnest  science  and  charlatanism. 
So  far  as  we  know  he  still  remained  earnest  in  his 
scientific  belief — as  indeed  he  was  till  the  end  of 
his  days.  Inasmuch  as  fashion  requires  some  con- 
crete expression  of  its  fancies,  Mesmer  soon  used 
the  picturesque  side  of  his  brain  for  the  service  of 
fashionable  success.     So  he  invented  an  appliance 


which  soon  became  the  talk  of  the  town.  This  was 
the  famous  baquet  magique  or  magic  tub,  a  sort  of 
covered  bath,  round  which  his  patients  were 
arranged  in  tiers.  To  the  bath  were  attached  a 
number  of  tubes,  each  of  which  was  held  by  a 
patient,  who  could  touch  with  the  end  of  it  any 
part  of  his  or  her  body  at  will.  After  a  while  the 
patients  began  to  get  excited,  and  many  of  them 
went  into  convulsions.  Amongst  them  walked 
Mesmer,  clad  in  an  imposing  dress  suggestive  of 
mystery  and  carrying  a  long  wand  of  alleged  magic 
power;  often  calming  those  who  had  already 
reached  the  stage  of  being  actually  convulsed.  His 
usual  method  of  producing  something  of  the  same 
effect  at  private  seances,  was  by  holding  the  hand 
of  the  patient,  touching  the  forehead  and  making 
"passes"  with  the  open  hand  with  fingers  spread 
out,  and  by  crossing  and  uncrossing  his  arms  with 
great  rapidity. 

A  well-attended  seance  must  have  been  a  curious 
and  not  altogether  pleasant  experience  even  to  a 
wholesome  spectator  in  full  possession  of  his  natural 
faculties.  The  whole  surroundings  of  the  place 
together  with  the  previously  cultured  belief;  the 
dusk  and  mystery;  the  "nrysterious  sympathy  of 
numbers" — as  Dean  Farrar  called  it;  the  spasmodic 
snapping  of  the  cords  of  tensity  which  took  away 
all  traces  of  reserve  or  reticence  from  the  men  and 
women  present;  the  vague  terror  of  the  unknown, 
that  mysterious  apprehension  which  is  so  potent 


with  the  nerves  of  weak  or  imaginative  people ;  and, 
it  may  be,  the  slipping  of  the  dogs  of  conscience — 
all  these  combined  to  wreck  the  moral  and  mental 
stability  of  those  present,  most  of  whom  it  must  be 
remembered  were  actually  ill,  or  imagined  them- 
selves to  be  so,  which  came  practically  to  the  same 
thing.  The  psychical  emotion  was  all  very  well 
in  the  world  of  pleasure ;  but  these  creatures  became 
physically  sick  through  nervous  strain.  As  de- 
scribed by  the  historian,  they  expectorated  freely  a 
viscous  fluid,  and  their  sickness  passed  into  convul- 
sions more  or  less  violent ;  the  women  naturally  suc- 
cumbing more  readily  and  more  quickly  than  the 
men.  This  absolute  collapse — half  epileptic,  half 
hysterical — lasted  varying  periods  according  to  the 
influence  exercised  by  the  presence  of  the  calm,  self- 
reliant  operator.  We  of  a  later  age,  when  electric 
force  has  been  satisfactorily  harnessed  and  when 
magnetism  as  a  separate  power  is  better  understood, 
may  find  it  hard  to  understand  that  the  most  ad- 
vanced and  daring  scientists  of  the  time — to  whom 
Frederic-Antoine  Mesmer  was  at  least  allied — 
were  satisfied  that  magnetism  and  electricity  were 
variants  of  the  same  mysterious  force  or  power.  It 
was  on  this  theory  that  he  seems  to  have  worked  his 
main  idea  to  practical  effect.  The  base  of  his  sys- 
tem was  animal  magnetism,  which  could  be  super- 
induced or  aided  by  mechanical  appliances.  He 
did  not  deceive  himself  into  believing  that  he  had 
invented  the  idea  but  was  quite  willing  to  make  the 


utmost  use  he  could  of  the  discoveries  and  inven- 
tions of  others.  So  far  as  we  can  gather  his  inten- 
tions from  his  acts,  the  main  object  in  his  scientific 
work  was  to  simplify  the  processes  of  turning  emo- 
tion into  effect.  Magnetism  had  already  been 
largely  studied,  and  means  were  being  constantly 
sought  for  increasing  its  efficacy.  Father  Hehl 
had  brought  to  a  point  of  accepted  perfection  the 
manufacture  of  metal  plates  used  in  magnetic  de- 
velopment, and  these  Mesmer  used,  with  the  result 
that  a  violent  controversy  took  place  between  them. 
So  far  as  we  can  follow  after  the  lapse  of  time, 
Mesmer  was  consistent  in  his  theories  and  their  ap- 
plication. He  held  that  the  principle  was  one  of 
planetary  influence  on  the  nervous  system,  and  its 
manifestation  was  by  a  process  of  alternate  inten- 
sion and  remission.  It  is  possible  that  Mesmer — 
who  held  that  the  heavenly  bodies  floated  in  a  limit- 
less magnetic  fluid  and  that  he  could  make  all  sub- 
stances, even  such  things  as  bread  or  dogs  magnetic 
— had  in  his  mind  the  wisdom  of  following  the  same 
theory  in  matters  of  lesser  significance,  though  of 
more  individual  import,  than  those  of  astronomy 
and  its  correlated  sciences.  If  so  he  was  wise  in  his 
generation,  for  later  electricians  have  found  that 
the  system  of  alternating  currents  especially  at  high 
tension,  is  of  vast  practical  importance.  That  he 
was  practical  in  his  use  of  the  ideas  of  others  is 
shown  by  the  fact  that  he  preferred  the  metallic 
plates  of  Father  Hehl  to  his  own  passes,  even 


though  the  report  of  the  Royal  Commission  ruined 
him — at  any  rate  checked  his  success,  by  stating 
that  similar  effects  to  those  attending  his  passes 
could  be  produced  by  other  means,  and  that  such 
passes  had  no  effect  unless  through  the  patient's 
knowledge ;  in  fact  that  it  was  all  the  work  of  imag- 
ination. Mesmer  had  been  asked  to  appear  before 
the  Commission  of  the  Faculty  of  Medicine  ap- 
pointed in  1784  to  investigate  and  report,  but  he 
kept  away.  It  would  not  have  injured  any  man 
to  have  appeared  before  such  a  commission  if  his 
cause  had  been  a  good  one.  There  were  two  such 
commissions.  The  first  was  of  the  leading  phy- 
sicians of  Paris,  and  included  such  men  as  Ben- 
jamin Franklin,  Lavoisier,  the  great  chemist,  and 
'Bailly,  the  historian  of  astronomy. 

It  was  distinctly  to  his  disadvantage  that  Mes- 
mer always  kept  at  a  distance  the  whole  corps  of 
savants  such  as  the  Faculty  of  Medicine  and  the 
Academy  of  Sciences — for  they  would  no  doubt 
have  accepted  his  views,  visionary  though  they  were, 
if  he  could  have  shown  any  scientific  base  for  them. 
True  medical  science  has  always  been  suspicious  of, 
and  cautious  regarding,  empiricism.  More  than 
once  he  stood  in  his  own  light  in  this  matter — 
whether  through  obstinacy  or  doubt  of  his  own  the- 
ory does  not  matter.  For  instance,  in  Vienna,  when 
his  very  existence  as  a  scientist  was  at  stake  in  the 
matter  of  the  effects  of  his  treatment  of  Made- 
moiselle   Paradis,    he    introduced    a    humiliating 

MESMER  101 

clause  in  his  challenge  to  the  Faculty  which  caused 
them  to  refuse  to  accept  it.  Mademoiselle  Paradis 
was  blind  and  subject  to  convulsions.  After  treat- 
ing her  by  his  own  method  Mesmer  said  she  was 
cured.  An  oculist  said,  after  testing,  that  she  was  as 
blind  as  ever,  and  her  family  said  that  she  was 
still  subject  to  convulsions.  But  Mesmer  persisted 
that  she  was  cured,  that  there  was  a  conspiracy 
against  him,  and  that  Mademoiselle  Paradis  had 
feigned.  He  challenged  the  Faculty  of  Medicine 
on  the  subject  of  his  discovery.  Twenty- four  pa- 
tients were  to  be  selected  by  the  Faculty;  of  these 
twelve  were  to  be  treated  by  Mesmerism  and  the 
other  half  by  the  means  ordinarily  in  use.  The 
condition  he  imposed  was  that  the  witnesses  were 
not  to  be  of  the  Faculty. 

Again,  when  in  answer  to  a  request  on  his  part 
that  the  French  Government  for  the  good  of  the 
community  should  subsidise  him,  a  proposal  was 
made  to  him,  he  did  not  receive  it  favourably.  The 
request  he  made  to  Marie  Antoinette  was  that  he 
should  have  an  estate  and  chateau  and  a  handsome 
income,  so  that  he  might  go  on  experimenting;  he 
put  the  broad  figures  at  four  hundred  or  five  hun- 
dred thousand  francs.  The  Government  sugges- 
tion was  that  he  should  have  a  pension  of  twenty 
thousand  francs  and  the  Cross  of  Saint  Michael 
(Knighthood)  if  he  would  communicate  for  public 
use,  to  a  board  of  physicians  nominated  by  the  King, 
such  discoveries  as  he  might  make.     After  his  re- 


fusal  of  the  Government  proposition  Mesmer  went 
to  Spa,  taking  with  him  a  number  of  his  patients, 
and  there  opened  a  magnetic  establishment  where 
he  renewed  his  Paris  success.  He  asked  Parlia- 
ment to  hold  an  impartial  examination  into  the 
theory  and  working  of  Animal  Magnetism.  Foiled 
in  his  scheme  of  state  purchase  on  his  own  terms, 
he  sold  his  secret  to  a  group  of  societies,  the  mem- 
bers of  which  were  to  pay  him  a  subscription  of  a 
hundred  louis  per  capita.  By  this  means  he  real- 
ised some  340,000  livres — representing  to-day  over 
a  million.  The  associated  body  was  composed  of 
twenty-four  societies  called  "societes  de  l'harmo- 
nie" — a  sort  of  Freemasonry,  under  a  Grand  Mas- 
ter and  Chiefs  of  the  Order.  A  member  had  to  be 
at  the  time  of  admission  twenty-five  years  of  age, 
of  honest  state  and  good  name,  not  to  smoke 
tobacco,  and  to  pay  an  annual  subscription  of  at 
least  sixty  francs.  There  were  three  grades  in  the 
Order:  Initiated  Associates,  Corresponding  Asso- 
ciates and  Uninitiated.  Amongst  those  belonging 
to  the  Society  were  such  men  as  Lafayette,  d'Es- 
premisnil,  and  Berthollet  the  great  chemist.  Ber- 
thollet  had,  however,  peculiar  privileges,  amongst 
which  was  the  right  of  criticism.  On  one  occasion 
he  had  a  "row"  with  Mesmer  about  his  charlatanism. 
At  length  the  French  public,  wearied  with  his 
trickeries  and  angry  with  his  cupidity,  openly  ex- 
pressed their  dissatisfaction.  Whereupon  he  left 
France,  taking  with  him  a  fortune  of  three  hun- 

MESMER  103 

dred  and  forty  thousand  francs.  He  went  to  Eng- 
land and  thence  to  Germany.  Finally  he  settled 
down  in  Mersbourg  in  his  native  country,  Suabia, 
where  he  died  in  1815,  at  the  age  of  eighty-one. 



THE  legend  of  the  Wandering  Jew  has  its 
roots  in  a  belief  in  the  possibility  of  human 
longevity  beyond  what  is  natural  and 
normal.  It  is  connected  with  the  story  of  the  Cru- 
cifixion and  the  mysteries  that  preceded  and  fol- 
lowed it.  Our  account  may  find  its  starting  point 
in  a  book  of  extraordinary  interest  which  made  a 
sensation  in  the  seventeenth  century  and  is  still 
delightful  reading.  The  passage  which  should 
arrest  our  attention  is  as  follows: 

"The  story  of  the  Wandering  Jew  is  very  strange  and  will 
hardly  obtain  belief;  yet  there  is  a  small  account  thereof  set 
down   by   Matthew   Paris   from   the   report   of   an    Armenian 
Bishop;   who   came    into   this    Kingdom   about   four   hundred 
years   ago,   and   had   often   entertained   this   wanderer   at  his 
Table.     That  he  was  then  alive,  was  first  called  Cartaphilus, 
was  keeper  of  the  Judgment  Hall,  whence  thrusting  out  our 
Saviour  with  expostulation  of  his  stay,  was  condemned  to  stay 
until  His  return;  was  after  baptized  by  Ananias,  and  by  the 
name  of  Joseph;  was  thirty  years  old  in  the  dayes  of  our 
Saviour,  remembered  the   Saints  that  arised  with   Him,  the 
making  of  the  Apostles'  Creed,  and  their  several  peregrina- 
tions.    Surely  were  this  true,  he  might  be  an  happy  arbitrator 
in  many  Christian  controversies;  but  must  impardonably  con- 
demn the  obstinacy  of  the  Jews,  who  can  contemn  the  Rhet- 



orick  of  such  miracles,  and  blindly  behold  so  living  and  last- 
ing conversions." 

The  above  is  taken  from  the  work  entitled  "Pseu- 
doxia  Epidemica"  or  Enquiries  into  very  many  Re- 
ceived Tenets  and  Commonly  Presumed  Truths 
by  Sir  Thomas  Brown,  Knight  M.D.  This  was 
first  published  in  1640,  so  that  the  "about  four 
hundred  years  ago"  mentioned  would  bring  the 
report  of  the  Armenian  Bishop  to  the  first  half  of 
the  thirteenth  century. 

Thus  unless  there  be  something  of  an  authorita- 
tive character  to  upset  the  theory,  Matthew  Paris 
must  be  taken  as  the  first  European  narrator  of  the 
story.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  legend  began  just 
about  the  time  thus  arrived  at.  The  great  work  in 
Latin,  "Historia  Major"  was  begun  by  Roger  of 
Wendover  and  completed  in  1259  by  the  monk  Mat- 
thew Paris.  It  was  not  however  published — in  our 
ordinary  sense  of  the  word — until  the  beginning 
of  the  year  1571  when  Archbishop  Parker  took  it 
in  hand.  In  the  meantime  the  art  of  printing  had 
been  established  and  the  new  world  of  thought  and 
the  reproduction  of  its  fruit,  had  been  developed 
for  common  use.  The  Historia  Major  was  again 
printed  in  Zurich  in  1589  and  1606.  The  next 
English  edition  was  in  1640.  This  was  reprinted 
in  Paris  in  1644.  The  English  edition  of  forty 
years  later,  1684,  was  a  really  fine  specimen  of  typo- 
graphic art.  The  authorship  and  date  of  its  print- 
ing are  given :  Matthaei  Paris,  Monachi  Albanensis 


Angli  London  MDCLXXXIV.  The  script  is 
in  ecclesiastical  Latin  and  to  any  modern  reader 
is  of  a  fresh  and  almost  child-like  sincerity  which 
at  once  disarms  doubt  or  hostile  criticism.  Indeed 
it  affords  a  good  example  of  the  mechanism  of 
myth,  showing  how  the  littleness  of  human  nature 
s — vanity  with  its  desire  to  shine  and  credulity  in  its 
primitive  form,  are  not  subject  to  the  controlling 
influences  of  either  sacredness  of  subject  or  the 
rulings  of  common  sense.  It  lends  another  mean- 
ing to  the  quotation  of  Feste,  the  jester:  Cucul- 
lus  non  facit  Monaclium.  The  artless  narrative 
recorded  in  the  Historia  Major  makes  the  whole 
inception  of  the  myth  transparent.  In  the  mon- 
astery of  St.  Albans  a  conversation  is  held  by  the 
monks  on  one  side  and  the  Armenian  Archbishop 
— name  not  given,  on  the  other.  The  interpreter 
in  French  is  one  Henri  Spigurnel  a  native  of 
Antioch,  servant  of  the  bishop.  We  can  gather 
even  how  Sir  Thomas  Brown  M.  D.,  doctor  of 
Norwich  and  most  open-minded  of  scientists,  lent 
himself,  unconsciously,  to  the  propagation  of  error. 
Brown  reading,  or  hearing  read,  the  work  of  Mat- 
thew Paris  took  it  for  granted  that  the  record  was 
correct  and  complete;  and  in  his  own  book  sum- 
marises or  generalises  the  statements  made.  For 
instance  he  says  that  the  Armenian  bishop  had 
"often  entertained  this  wanderer  at  his  table"  &c. 
Now  it  was  his  servant  who  told  the  monks  that 
the  wandering  Jew  whom  he  had  seen  and  heard 


speaking  many  times  dined  at  the  table  of  his  lord 
the  Archbishop.  This  at  once  minimises  the  value 
of  the  statement,  for  it  does  away  at  once  with  the 
respect  due  to  the  bishop's  high  office  and  presumed 
character,  and  with  the  sense  of  intellectual  acumen 
and  accuracy  which  might  be  expected  to  emanate 
from  one  of  his  scholarship  and  quality.  Thus  we 
get  the  story  not  from  an  accredited  Bishop  on  a 
foreign  mission — rare  at  the  period  and  entrusted 
only  to  men  of  note — but  from  the  gossip  of  an 
Armenian  lacquey  or  valet,  trying  to  show  his  own 
importance  to  a  credulous  serving  brother  of  the 
monastery.  And  so,  after  all,  coming  from  this 
source  it  is  to  be  accepted  with  exceeding  care — 
not  to  say  doubt,  even  when  seconded  by  the  learned 
monastic  scribe  Matthew.  So,  also,  for  instance 
is  his  statement  regarding  the  manner  in  which  the 
wanderer's  life  is  miraculously  prolonged.  It  is 
to  this  effect.  Each  hundredth  year  Joseph  falls 
into  a  faint  so  that  he  lies  for  a  time  unconscious. 
When  he  recovers  he  finds  that  his  age  is  restored 
to  that  which  it  was  when  the  Lord  suffered. 
Joseph,  it  must  be  borne  in  mind,  is  the  Wander- 
ing Jew,  once  Cartaphilus,  who  had  kept  Pilate's 
judgment-hall.  Then  Matthew  himself  takes  up 
the  story  and  gives  what  professes  to  be  the  ipsis- 
sima  verba  of  the  servant  as  to  the  conversation 
between  Christ  and  Cartaphilus  which  culminated 
in  the  terrible  doom  pronounced  on  the  janitor  who, 
from  the  showing,  did  not  seem  a  whit  worse  than 


any  of  the  crowd  present  on  that  momentous  day 
in  Jerusalem.  When  Jesus,  wearied  already  with 
carrying  the  great  cross,  leaned  for  a  moment 
against  the  wall  of  the  house  of  Cartaphilus  just 
opposite  the  Judgment-hall  the  official  said: 

"  'Vade  Jesu  citius,  vade,  quid  moraris  ?'  et  Jesus  severo 
vultu  et  oculo  respiciens  eum,  dixit:  'Ego  vado.  Expectabis 
donee  veniam.'  " 

Now  this  is  the  whole  and  sole  foundation  of  the 
individual  Wandering  Jew.  I  say  "individual'* 
because  there  were  before  long  other  variants,  and 
many  old  beliefs  and  fables  were  appropriated  and 
used  to  back  up  the  marvellous  story,  invented  by 
the  Armenian  servant  and  recorded  by  the  learned 
monk,  Matthew.  Amongst  these  beliefs  were 
those  which  taught  that  John  the  Baptist  never 
died;  that  the  aloe  blooms  only  once  in  a  hundred 
years;  and  that  the  phoenix  renews  itself  in  fire. 
It  is  the  tendency  of  legendary  beliefs  to  group  or 
neucleate  themselves  as  though  there  were  a  con- 
scious and  intentional  effort  at  self -protection ;  and 
this,  together  with  the  natural  human  tendency  to 
enlarge  and  elaborate  an  accepted  idea,  is  respon- 
sible for  much.  The  legend  started  in  the  thir- 
teenth century,  took  root  and  flourished,  and  in 
the  very  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  a  variant 
blossomed.  In  this  Joseph,  originally  Cartaphilus, 
became  Ahasuerus.  In  the  long  pause  the  story, 
after  the  manner  of  all  things  of  earth,  had  grown, 


details  not  being  lacking.  The  world  was  in- 
formed through  the  Bishop  of  Schleswig,  how  in 
1547,  at  Hamburg,  a  man  was  seen  in  the  Cathe- 
dral who  arrested  attention — why  we  are  not  told. 
He  was  about  fifty  years  of  age,  of  reverend  man- 
ner, and  dressed  in  ragged  clothes;  he  bowed  low 
at  the  name  of  Christ.  Many  of  the  nobility  and 
gentry  who  saw  him  recognised  him  as  one  whom 
they  had  already  seen  in  various  places — England, 
France,  Italy,  Hungary,  Persia,  Spain,  Poland, 
Moscow,  Lieffland,  Sweden,  Denmark,  Scotland, 
&c.  Inquiry  being  made  of  him,  he  told  the  Bishop 
that  he  was  Ahasuerus  the  shoe-maker  of  Jerusa- 
lem, who  had  been  present  at  the  Crucifixion  and 
had  ever  since  been  always  wandering.  He  was 
well  posted  in  history,  especially  regarding  the 
lives  and  sufferings  of  the  Apostles,  and  told  how, 
when  he  had  directed  Christ  to  move  on,  the  latter 
had  answered:  "I  will  stand  here  and  rest,  but 
thou  shalt  move  on  till  the  last  day."  He  had  been 
first  seen,  we  are  told,  at  Lubeck. 

It  is  strange  that  in  an  age  of  religious  domina- 
tion many  of  the  legends  of  Our  Saviour  seem  to 
have  been  based  on  just  such  intolerant  anger  at 
personal  slight  as  might  have  ruled  a  short-tem- 
pered, vain  man.  For  instance  look  at  one  of  the 
Christ  legends  which  was  reproduced  in  poor 
Ophelia's  distracted  mind  apropos  of  the  owl, 
"They  say,  the  owl  was  a  baker's  daughter."  The 
Gloucestershire   legend   runs   that    Christ   having 


asked  for  bread  at  baking  time  the  mistress  of  the 
bakery  took  dough  from  the  oven,  but  her  daugh- 
ter having  remonstrated  as  to  the  size  of  the  bene- 
faction was  turned  into  an  owl.  The  penalty  in- 
flicted on  the  erring  janitor  of  the  Presidium  is 
another  instance. 

The  "Wandering  Jew"  legend  once  started,  was 
hard  to  suppress.  The  thirteenth,  fourteenth, 
fifteenth  and  sixteenth  centuries  were  the  ages  of 
Jew-baiting  in  the  kingdoms  of  the  West,  and 
naturally  the  stories  took  their  colour  from  the  pre- 
vailing idea. 

In  1644,  Westphalus  learned  from  various 
sources  that  the  Wandering  Jew  healed  diseases, 
and  that  he  had  said  he  was  at  Rome  when  it  was 
burned  by  Nero;  that  he  had  seen  the  return  of 
Saladin  after  his  Eastern  Conquests;  that  he  had 
been  in  Constantinople  when  Salimen  had  built  the 
royal  mosque;  that  he  knew  Tamerlane  the  Scyth- 
ian, and  Scander  Beg,  Prince  of  Epirus;  that  he 
had  seen  Bajazet  carried  in  a  cage  by  Tamerlane's 
order;  that  he  remembered  the  Caliphs  of  Baby- 
lon and  of  Egypt,  the  Empire  of  the  Saracens, 
and  the  Crusades  where  he  had  known  Godfrey  de 
Bouillon.  Amongst  other  things  he  seems  to  have 
apologised  for  not  seeing  the  Sack  of  Jerusalem, 
because  he  was  at  that  time  in  Rome  at  the  Court 
of  Vespasian. 

The  Ahasuerus  version  of  the  Wandering  Jew 
legend    seems    to    have    been    the    popular    one 


amongst  the  commonalty  in  England.  As  an  in- 
stance might  be  quoted  the  broad-sheet  ballad  of 
1670.  It  is  not  without  even  historical  significance 
as  it  marks  the  measure  of  the  time  in  many  ways. 
It  is  headed:  "The  Wandering  Jew,  or  the  Shoe- 
maker of  Jerusalem  who  lived  when  Our  Lord  and 
Saviour  Jesus  Christ  was  crucified  appointed  by 
Him  to  five  until  Coming  again.  Tune,  The 
Lady's  Fall  &c.  Licens'd  and  Enter'd  according 
to  order."  The  imprint  runs:  "Printed  by  and 
for  W.  O.  and  sold  by  the  Booksellers  of  Pye- 
corner  and  London-Bridge." 

A  century  and  a  half  later — 1828 — was  pub- 
lished a  much  more  pretentious  work  on  the  same 
theme.  This  was  a  novel  written  by  Rev.  George 
Croly.  It  was  called:  "Salathiel:  a  Story  of  the 
Past,  the  Present,  the  Future."  It  was  published 
anonymously  and  had  an  immediate  and  lasting 
success.  It  was  founded  on  historical  lines,  the 
author  manifestly  benefiting  by  the  hints  afforded 
by  the  work  of  that  consummate  liar  ( in  a  historical 
sense)  Westphalus — or  his  informant.  Croly  was 
a  strange  man  with  a  somewhat  abnormal  faculty 
of  abstraction.  I  used  to  hear  of  him  from  my 
father  who  was  a  friend  of  his  about  a  hundred 
years  ago.  Being  of  gentle  nature  he  did  not 
wish  to  cause  any  pain  or  concern  to  his  family  or 
dependents;  but  at  the  same  time  he,  as  a  writer, 
had  to  guard  himself  against  interruption  and  con- 
sequent digression  of  his  thoughts  during  the  times 


he  set  apart  for  imaginative  work.  So  he  devised 
a  scheme  which  might  often  be  put  in  practice  with 
advantage  by  others  similarly  employed.  When 
settling  down  to  a  spell  of  such  work — which  as 
every  creative  writer  knows  involves  periods  of 
mental  abstraction  though  of  bodily  restlessness — 
he  would  stick  an  adhesive  wafer  on  his  forehead. 
The  rule  of  the  house  was  that  when  he  might  be 
adorned  in  this  wise  no  one  was  to  speak  to  him, 
or  even  notice  him,  except  under  special  necessity. 
The  great  vogue  of  Salathiel  lasted  some  ten  or 
more  years,  when  the  torch  of  the  Wandering  Jew 
was  lighted  by  Eugene  Sue  the  French  novelist 
who  had  just  completed  in  the  Debats  his  story 
"Les  Mysteres  de  Paris."  As  its  successor  he 
chose  the  theme  adopted  by  Croly,  and  the  new 
novel  Le  Juif -Errant  ran  with  overwhelming  suc- 
cess in  the  Constitutionnel. 

Sue  was  what  in  modern  slang  is  called  "up  to 
date."  He  knew  every  trick  and  dodge  of  the 
world  of  advertisement,  and  in  conjunction  with 
his  editor,  Dr.  Veron,  he  used  them  all.  But  he 
had  good  wares  to  exploit.  His  novels  are  really 
excellent,  though  the  changes  in  social  life  and  in 
religious,  political  and  artistic  matters,  which  took 
place  between  1844  and  1910,  make  some  things  in 
them  seem  out  of  date.  His  great  imagination,  and 
his  firm  and  rapid  grasp  of  salient  facts  susceptible 
of  being  advantageously  used  in  narrative,  pointed 
out  to  him  a  fresh  road.    It  was  not  sufficient  to  the 


hour  and  place  that  Cartaphilus — or  Joseph — or 
Ahasuerus,  or  Salathiel  or  whatever  he  might  be 
called — should  purge  his  sin  by  his  personal  suffer- 
ings alone.  In  the  legend,  up  to  then  accepted,  he 
had  long  ago  repented;  so  to  increase  the  poig- 
nancy of  his  sufferings,  Sue  took  from  the  experi- 
ence of  his  own  time  a  means  of  embittering  the 
very  inmost  soul  of  such  an  one.  He  must  be 
made  to  feel  that  his  existence  is  a  curse  not  only 
to  himself  but  to  all  the  world.  To  this  end  he  at- 
tached to  the  Wanderer  the  obligation  of  carrying 
a  fell  disease.  The  quick  brain  of  the  great  feuil- 
letonist seized  the  dramatic  moment  for  utilising 
the  occasion.  A  dozen  years  before,  the  frightful 
spread  of  the  cholera,  which  had  once  again 
wrought  havoc,  woke  the  whole  world  to  new  ter- 
ror. Some  one  of  uneasy  mind  who  found  diver- 
sion in  obscure  comparisons,  noted  from  the  rec- 
ords of  the  disease  that  its  moving  showed  the  same 
progress  in  a  given  direction  as  a  man's  walking. 
A  hint  was  sufficient  for  the  public  who  eagerly 
seized  the  idea  that  the  Wandering  Jew  had,  from 
the  first  recorded  appearance  of  the  cholera,  been 
the  fated  carrier  of  that  dreaded  pestilence.  The 
idea  seemed  to  be  a  dramatic  inspiration  and  had 
prehensile  grasp.  Great  as  had  been  the  success 
of  the  Mysteries  of  Paris,  that  of  The  Wandering 
Jew  surpassed  it,  and  for  half  a  century  the  new 
novel  kept  vividly  before  its  readers  the  old  tra- 
dition, and  so  brought  it  down  to  the  present. 


We  may  now  begin  to  ask  ourselves  who  and 
where  in  this  great  deception  was  the  impostor. 
Who  was  the  guilty  one?  And  at  first  glance  we 
are  inclined  to  say  "There  is  none!  Whatever  the 
error,  mistake,  deception,  or  false  conclusion,  there 
has  been  no  direct  guilt."  This  is  to  presuppose 
that  guilt  is  of  conscious  premeditation ;  and  neither 
intention  of  evil  nor  consciousness  of  guilt  is  ap- 
parent.    In  legal  phrase  the  mens  rea  is  lacking. 

It  is  a  purely  metaplrysical  speculation  whether 
guilt  is  a  necessaiy  element  of  imposition.  One  is 
an  intellectual  experience,  the  other  is  an  ethical 
problem ;  and  if  we  are  content  to  deal  with  respon- 
sibility for  another's  misdoing,  the  question  of  the 
degree  of  blameworthiness  is  sufficient.  Let  us  try 
a  process  of  exclusions.  The  complete  list  of  those 
who  had  a  part  in  the  misunderstanding  regarding 
the  myth  of  the  Wandering  Jew,  leaving  out  the 
ostensible  fictionists,  were: 

The  Abbot  of  St.  Albans,  the  Archbishop  of 
Armenia,  the  interpreter,  the  Archbishop's  servant, 
the  monks  or  laybrothers  who  singly  or  in  general 
conversed  with  any  of  the  above;  and  finally  Mat- 
thew Paris  who  recorded  the  story  in  its  various 
phases.  Of  these  we  must  except  from  all  blame 
both  the  Abbot  of  St.  Albans  and  the  Archbishop 
of  Armenia,  both  of  whom  were  good  grave  men 
of  high  character  and  to  each  of  whom  had  been  en- 
trusted matters  of  the  highest  concern.  The  in- 
terpreter seems  to  have  only  fulfilled  his  office  with 


exactitude;  if  in  any  way  or  part  he  used  his  op- 
portunity to  impose  on  the  ignorance  of  the  host 
or  the  guest  there  is  no  record,  no  suggestion  of  it. 
Matthew  Paris  was  a  man  of  such  keenness  of 
mind,  of  such  observation  and  of  such  critical  in- 
sight, that  even  to-day,  after  a  lapse  of  over  five 
hundred  years,  and  the  withstanding  of  all  the  tests 
of  a  new  intellectual  world  which  included  such  in- 
ventions as  printing  and  photography,  he  is  looked 
upon  as  one  of  the  ablest  of  chroniclers.  More- 
over he  put  no  new  matter  nor  comments  of  his 
own  into  the  wonderful  and  startling  narratives 
which  he  was  called  on  to  record.  He  even  hints  at 
or  infers  his  own  doubt  as  to  the  statements  made. 
The  monks,  servants  and  others  mentioned  gen- 
erally, were  merely  credulous,  simple  people  of  the 
time,  with  reverence  for  any  story  regarding  the 
Via  Dolorosa,  and  respect  or  awe  for  those  in  high 

There  remains  but  the  servant  of  the  foreign 
Archbishop.  It  is  to  him  that  we  must  look  for 
any  outrage  on  our  normal  beliefs.  He  was  mani- 
festly a  person  of  individually  small  importance — 
even  Matthew  Paris  whose  trained  work  it  was  to 
record  with  exactness,  and  whose  duty  it  therefore 
was  to  sustain  or  buttress  main  facts,  did  not  think 
it  necessary  or  worth  while  to  mention  his  name. 
He  had  in  himself  none  of  the  dignity,  honour, 
weight,  learning  or  position  of  the  noble  of  the 
Church  who  was  the  Abbot's  guest.     He  was  after 


all  but  a  personal  servant;  probably  one  of  readi- 
ness and  expediency  with  a  quick  imagination  and 
a  glib  tongue.  One  who  could  wriggle  through  a 
difficult  position,  defend  himself  with  ready  ac- 
quiescence, gain  his  ends  of  securing  his  master's 
ease,  and  find  all  necessary  doors  open  through  the 
bonhommie  of  his  fellow  servitors.  Such  an  one 
accustomed  to  the  exigencies  of  foreign  travel,  must 
have  picked  up  many  quaint  conceits,  legends  and 
japes,  and  was  doubtless  a  persona  grata  liked  and 
looked  up  to  by  persons  of  his  own  class,  sanctified 
to  some  little  extent  by  the  reflected  glory  of  his 
master's  great  position.  It  is  more  than  likely  that 
he  had  been  the  recipient  of  many  confidences  re- 
garding legend  and  conjecture  concerning  sacred 
matters,  and  that  any  such  legend  as  he  spoke  of 
would  have  been  imparted  under  conditions  favour- 
able to  his  own  comfort.  After  the  manner  of  his 
kind  his  stories  doubtless  lost  nothing  in  the  telling 
and  gained  considerably  in  the  re-telling.  Even 
in  the  short  record  of  Matthew  Paris,  there  is  evi- 
dence of  this  in  the  way  in  which,  after  the  strik- 
ing story  of  Cartaphilus  has  been  told,  he  returns 
to  the  matter  again,  adding  picturesque  and  incon- 
clusive details  of  the  manner  of  the  centennial  re- 
newal of  the  wanderer's  youth.  The  simplest 
analysis  here  will  show  the  falsity  of  the  story; 
what  the  great  logician  Archbishop  Whately  al- 
ways insisted  on — "internal  evidence" — is  dead 
against  the  Armenian  valet,  courier,  or  servitor. 


He  gave  circumstantial  account  of  the  periodic 
illness,  loss  of  memory,  and  recovery  of  youth  on 
the  part  of  Cartaphilus;  but  there  is  no  hint  of 
how  he  came  to  know  it,  and  Cartaphilus  could  not 
have  told  him,  nor  anybody  else.  We  may,  I  think, 
take  it  for  granted  that  no  other  mere  mortal  was 
present,  for,  had  any  other  human  being  been  there, 
all  the  quacksalvers  of  a  thousand  miles  around 
would  have  moved  heaven  and  earth  to  get  infor- 
mation of  what  was  going  on,  since  in  mediaeval 
days  there  was  nearly  as  much  competition  in  the 
world  of  charlatanism  as  there  is  to-day  in  the 
world  of  sport.  The  Armenian  was  much  too 
handy  a  man  at  such  a  crisis  to  be  found  out,  so  we 
may  give  him  the  benefit  of  the  doubt  and  at  once 
credit  him  with  invention.  It  is  hard  to  under- 
stand— or  even  to  believe  without  understanding — 
that  so  mighty  a  legend  and  one  so  tenacious  of  life, 
arose  and  grew  from  such  a  beginning.  And  yet 
it  is  in  accord  with  the  irony  of  nature  that  one 
who  has  unintentionally  and  unwittingly  achieved 
a  publicity  which  would  dwarf  the  malign  reputa- 
tion of  Herostratus  should  have  his  name  unre- 




THE  great  "Mississippi  Scheme"  which 
wrought  havoc  on  the  French  in  1720  is 
the  central  and  turning  point  in  the  his- 
tory of  John  Law,  late  of  Lauriston,  Controller- 
General  of  Finance  in  France.  His  father,  Wil- 
liam Law  (grand  nephew  of  James  Law,  Arch- 
bishop of  Glasgow)  was  a  goldsmith  in  that  city. 

As  in  the  seventeenth  century  the  goldsmiths 
were  also  the  bankers  and  moneylenders  of  the 
community,  a  successful  goldsmith  might  be  looked 
on  as  on  the  highroad  to  great  fortune.  To  Wil- 
liam Law  in  1671  was  born  his  first  son  John,  who 
had  considerable  natural  talent  in  the  way  of  math- 
ematics— and  a  nature  which  was  such  as  to  nullify 
their  use.  As  a  youth  he  showed  proficiency  in 
arithmetic  and  algebra,  but  as  he  was  also  in  those 
early  days  riotous  and  dissipated,  we  may  fairly 
come  to  the  conclusion  that  he  did  not  use  his  nat- 
ural powers  to  their  best  advantage.  He  was  al- 
ready a  gambler  of  a  marked  kind.  Before  he 
was  of  age  he  was  already  in  debt  and  was  squan- 
dering his  patrimony.  He  sold  the  estate  of 
Lauriston  which  his  thrifty  father  had  acquired, 



and  gave  himself  over  to  a  life  of  so-called  pleasure. 
His  mother,  who  had  family  ambitions,  bought  the 
estate  so  that  it  might  remain  in  the  family  of  its 
new  possessors.  He  removed  himself  to  London 
where  within  a  couple  of  years  he  was  sentenced  to 
death  for  murder — not  a  vulgar  premeditated  mur- 
der for  gain,  but  the  unhappy  result  of  a  duel 
wherein  he  had  killed  his  opponent,  a  boon  com- 
panion, one  Austin  who  had  acquired  the  soubriquet 
of  "Beau"  Austin.  Through  social  influence  the 
death  penalty  was  commuted  for  imprisonment, 
and  the  crime  only  regarded  as  manslaughter.  He 
had  however  to  deal  with  the  relatives  of  the  dead 
man  who  were  naturally  vindictive.  One  of  them 
entered  an  appeal  against  the  commutation  of  the 
sentence.  Law,  with  the  characteristic  prudence 
of  his  time  and  nationality,  did  not  wait  for  the 
leisurely  settlement  of  the  legal  process,  but  es- 
caped to  the  continent  where  he  remained  for  some 
years  sojourning  in  various  places.  Being  nat- 
urally clever  and  daring  he  seems  to  have  generally 
fallen  on  his  feet.  Whilst  in  Holland  he  became 
secretary  to  an  important  official  in  the  diplomatic 
world,  from  which  service  he  drifted  into  an  em- 
ployment with  the  Bank  of  Amsterdam.  Here  the 
natural  bent  of  his  mind  found  expression.  Bank- 
ing in  some  of  its  forms  is  gambling,  and  as  he  was 
both  banker  and  gambler — one  by  inherited  tend- 
ency and  the  other  by  personal  disposition — he  be- 
gan to  find  his  vogue,  addressing  himself  seriously 


JOHN  LAW  125 

to  the  intricacies  and  possibilities  of  the  profession 
of  banking.  He  was  back  in  Scotland  in  1701  (a 
risky  venture  on  his  part  for  his  felony  had  not  been 
"purged")  and  published  a  pamphlet,  "Proposals 
and  Reasons  for  constituting  a  Council  of  Trade  in 
Scotland/'  This  he  followed  up  after  some  years, 
with  another  pamphlet,  "Money  and  Trade  con- 
sidered, with  a  proposal  for  supplying  the  Nation 
with  Money3;  and  in  the  same  year  (1709)  he  pro- 
pounded to  the  Scotch  Parliament  a  scheme  for  a 
State  Bank  on  the  security  of  land — a  venture 
which  on  being  tried  speedily  collapsed.  This, 
like  other  schemes  of  that  period,  was  based  on  the 
issue  and  use  of  paper  money. 

In  the  meantime,  and  for  five  or  six  years  after- 
wards, he  was  travelling  variously  throughout 
Europe,  occupying  himself  with  formulating  suc- 
cessive schemes  of  finance,  and  in  gambling — a 
process  in  which  he,  being  both  skilled  and  lucky, 
amassed  a  sum  of  over  a  hundred  thousand  pounds. 
He  had  varying  fortunes,  however,  and  was  ex- 
pelled from  several  cities.  He  was  not  without  be- 
lievers in  his  powers.  Amongst  them  was  the  Earl 
of  Stair,  then  Ambassador  to  France,  who  allured 
by  his  specious  methods  of  finance,  suggested  to 
the  Earl  of  Stanhope  that  he  might  be  useful  in 
devising  a  scheme  for  paying  off  the  British  Na- 
tional Debt.  After  the  death  of  Louis  XIV,  in 
1715,  he  suggested  to  the  Duke  of  Orleans,  the 
Regent  for  the  young  King  (Louis  XV),  the  for- 


mation  of  a  State  Bank.  The  Regent  favoured 
the  idea,  but  his  advisers  were  against  it;  it  was, 
however,  agreed  that  Law  might  found  a  bank 
with  power  to  issue  notes  and  accept  deposits. 
This  was  done  by  Letters  Patent  and  the  Banque 
Generate  came  into  existence  in  1710,  and  was  an 
immediate  success.  Its  principle  was  to  issue 
paper  money  which  was  to  be  repayable  by  coin. 
Its  paper  rose  to  a  premium  in  1716;  in  1717  there 
was  a  decree  that  it  was  to  be  accepted  in  the  pay- 
ment of  taxes.  This  created  a  new  form  of  cheap 
money,  with  the  result  that  there  was  a  great  and 
sudden  extension  of  industry  and  trade.  From 
this  rose  the  idea  of  a  new  enterprise — The  Missis- 
sippi Company — which  was  to  outvie  the  success 
of  the  East  India  Company  incorporated  by  Char- 
ter in  1600  under  the  title  of  "The  Governor 
and  Company  of  the  Merchants  of  London  trading 
to  the  East  Indies,"  which  after  periods  of  doubt- 
ful fortune,  and  having  become  consolidated  with 
its  rival  "The  General  East  India  Company;" — 
partially  in  1702,  and  completely  in  1708,  under  the 
somewhat  elephantine  name  of  "The  United  Com- 
pany of  Merchants  of  England  trading  to  the  East 
Indies" — was  now  a  vast  organization  of  national 
importance.  To  the  new  French  Company  for  ex- 
ploiting the  Mississippi  Valley  was  made  over 
Louisiana  (which  then  included  what  were  after- 
wards the  States  of  Ohio  and  Missouri) .  The  De- 
cree of  Incorporation  was  issued  in  1717.     The 

JOHN  LAW  127 

Parliament  at  Paris  presently  grew  jealous  of  such 
a  concession  having  been  given  to  a  foreigner ;  and 
the  next  year  a  rumour  went  about  that  Parliament 
was  about  to  have  him  arrested,  tried,  and  hanged. 
The  Regent  met  the  parliamentary  resistance  by 
making  (1718)  the  Banque  Generate  into  the 
Banque  Royale — the  King  guaranteeing  the  notes. 
Law  was  made  Director  General;  but  he  was  un- 
able to  prevent  the  Regent  from  increasing  the 
issue  of  paper  money,  by  which  means  he  managed 
to  satisfy  dishonestly  his  own  extravagance.  It 
was  a  fiscal  principle  of  the  time  that  the  State  ac- 
countants did  not  go  behind  the  King's  receipt — 
the  acquit  de  comptant  as  it  was  called. 

The  Western  Company  was  enlarged  in  1718  by 
a  grant  of  a  monopoly  of  tobacco,  and  of  the 
rights  of  trading  ships  and  merchandise  of  the 
Company  of  Senegal.  In  1719,  the  Banque 
Royale  absorbed  the  rights  of  the  East  India  and 
China  Companies,  and  then  assumed  the  all-em- 
bracing title  of  Compagnie  des  Indes.  The  next 
year  it  took  in  the  African  Company;  and  so 
through  that  the  whole  of  the  non-European  trade 
of  France.  In  1719,  the  management  of  the  Mint 
was  handed  over  to  Law's  Company;  and  he  was 
thus  enabled  to  manipulate  the  coinage.  In  the 
same  year  he  had  undertaken  to  pay  off  the  French 
National  Debt,  and  so  become  the  sole  creditor  of 
the  Nation.  He  already  exercised  the  functions  of 
Receiver  General  and  had  revenue-farming  abol- 


ished  in  its  favour.  He  now  controlled  the  collec- 
tion and  disposal  of  the  whole  of  the  State  tax- 
ation. At  this  stage  of  his  adventure,  Law  seemed 
a  good  fiscal  administrator.  He  repealed  or  re- 
duced pressing  taxes  on  useful  commodities,  and 
reduced  the  price  of  necessaries  by  forty  per  cent, 
so  that  the  peasants  could  increase  the  value  of  their 
holdings  and  their  crops  without  fear  of  coming 
later  into  the  remorseless  grip  of  the  tax-farmer 
under  the  infamous  metayer  system.  Free-trade 
was  in  the  Provinces  practically  established.  This, 
so  far  as  it  went,  was  all  Law's  doing.  Turgot, 
who  later  got  credit  for  what  had  been  done,  only 
carried  out  what  the  Scotch  financier  had  planned. 

Law  had  promised  high  dividends  to  the  specu- 
lators in  his  scheme,  and  had  so  far  paid  them;  so 
it  was  no  wonder  that  "The  System"  raised  its 
head  again.  In  1719-20,  all  France  seemed  to 
flock  to  Paris  to  such  a  degree  and  with  such  unan- 
imity of  purpose,  that  it  was  difficult  to  obtain  room 
to  go  on  with  the  necessary  work  of  the  Mississippi 
Scheme.  In  such  matters,  resting  on  human  greed 
which  throws  all  prudence  to  the  winds,  the  pressure 
is  always  towards  the  centre;  and  the  narrow  street 
of  Quin  cam  poix  became  a  seething  mass,  day  and 
night,  of  speculators  in  a  hurry  to  buy  shares. 
The  time  for  trying  to  sell  them  had  not  yet  ar- 

Naturally  such  a  locality  rose  in  value,  and  as 
demand  emphasises  paucity  of  space,  extraordinary 

JOHN  LAW  129 

prices  ruled.  Even  a  small  share  in  the  lucky 
street,  where  fortunes  could  be  made  in  an  hour, 
rose  to  fabulous  value.  Houses  formerly  letting 
for  forty  pounds  a  year  now  fetched  eight  hundred 
pounds  per  month.  And  no  wonder,  when  shares 
of  the  face  value  of  five  hundred  livres  sold  for  ten 
thousand!  When  there  is  such  an  overwhelming 
desire  to  buy,  then  is  the  opportunity  for  sellers  to 
realise,  and  the  time  for  such  speculation  on  the  one 
side,  and  for  such  commerce  on  the  other,  is  nat- 
urally short  and  the  need  pressing. 

At  the  beginning  of  1720  everything  seemed  to 
be  increasing  in  a  sort  of  geometric  ratio.  After  a 
dividend  of  forty  per  cent,  had  been  declared, 
shares  of  five  hundred  value  rose  to  eighteen  thou- 
sand. Greed,  and  the  opportunity  for  satisfying 
its  craving,  turned  the  heads  of  ordinarily  sensible 
people.  The  whole  world  seemed  mad.  It  ap- 
peared right  enough  that  the  financial  wonder- 
worker who  had  created  such  a  state  of  things 
should  be  loaded  with  additional  honours.  It  was 
only  scriptural  that  he  who  had  already  multiplied 
his  talents  should  be  entrusted  with  more.  There 
was  universal  rejoicing  when  John  Law — exiled 
foreigner  and  condemned  murderer — was  ap- 
pointed, in  January,  1720,  Controller-General  of 
the  whole  finances  of  France.  Naturally  enough, 
even  the  hard  head  of  the  canny  Scot  began  to 
manifest  symptoms  of  giving  way  in  the  shape  of 
becoming  exalte.     And  naturally  enough  his  ene- 


mies — financial,  political  and  racial — did  not 
lose  the  opportunities  afforded  them  of  taking  ad- 
vantage of  it.  Tongues  began  to  wag,  and  all 
sorts  of  rumours,  some  of  them  reconcilable  with 
common  sense  and  easily  credible,  others  out- 
rageous, began  to  go  about.  Lord  Stair  reported 
that  Law  had  boasted  that  he  would  raise  France 
on  the  ruins  of  England  and  Holland,  to  a 
greater  height  than  she  had  ever  reached;  that  he 
could  crush  the  East  India  Company  and  even  de- 
stroy British  trade  and  credit  when  he  chose. 
Stair  resented  this,  and  he  and  Law  from  being 
close  friends  became  enemies.  To  appease  the  in- 
censed and  at  present  all-powerful  Law,  the  pow- 
ers that  were  recalled  Lord  Stair. 

On  23  February  1720,  the  Compagnie  des  Indes 
and  the  Banque  Royale  were  united,  thus  linking 
the  ends  of  the  financial  chain.  "The  System" 
was  now  complete. 

When  Aladdin  set  the  Genius,  who  had  hitherto 
worked  so  willingly,  the  final  task  of  hanging  a 
roc's  egg  in  the  centre  of  the  newly-created  palace, 
he  brought  the  whole  structure  tumbling  about  his 
ears.  So  it  was  with  John  Law  and  the  egregious 
Mississippi  Scheme.  His  idea  was  complete  and 
perfect.  But  the  high  sun  when  it  reaches  its 
meridianal  splendour  begins  from  that  instant  its 
downward  course. 

The  reaction  was  not  long  in  manifesting  itself. 
Usually  in  such  matters  there  is  a  pause  before  the 

JOHN  LAW  131 

great  driving-wheels  reverse  their  motion,  and  the 
backward  motion,  beginning  slowly,  gathers  way 
as  it  progresses.     But  in  this  case  human  intelli- 
gence and  not  soulless  machinery  was  the  propul- 
sive force  of  reaction.     The  speculators  had  begun 
to  work  before  the  onward  movement  had  come  to 
an  end  or  even  begun  to   slacken.     They   were 
loaded  up  with  a  vast  amount  of  stocks  whose 
value,  even  if  there  had  been  money  to  redeem 
them,  was  severely  limited,  whereas  they  had  pur- 
chased at  prices  varying  between  the  first  rise  above 
nominal  value  and  that  reached  by  the  last  desper- 
ate speculator.     It  is  not  wise  to  hold  such  inflated 
stock  too  long,  and  in  a  crisis  sailing-master  Wis- 
dom orders  Quarter-master  Caution  to  take  a  trick 
at  the  helm.     When  the  bare  idea  of  unification  of 
financial  interests  was  mooted,  the  wise  holders  of 
stock   commenced  to   unload.     When   this   move- 
ment began  its  progress  was  rapid — so  long  as 
there  was  anything  to  be  moved.     The  first  class 
to  feel  it  were  the  bankers.     The  specie  ran  out  like 
the  pent-up  water  from  a  burst  reservoir,  till  in  an 
incredibly  short  time  there  was  not  sufficient  re- 
maining to   afford  the   money-change   needed   in 
daily  life.     The  advisers  and  officials  of  the  State, 
seriously  alarmed,  began  at  once  to  take  strong 
measures   supported   by  royal   decrees.     Then  as 
ruin  began  to  stare  the  whole  nation  in  the  face 
more  and  more  with  every  hour,  desperate  expedi- 
ents were  resorted  to.     The  value  of  the  currency 


was  made  by  every  stratagem,  dishonest  trick,  and 
unscrupulous  exercise  of  power,  to  fluctuate  so  that 
such  differences  or  margins  as  arose  might  be 
grasped  forthwith  for  national  use.  Payments  in 
bullion,  except  for  very  small  amounts,  were  for- 
bidden. The  possession  of  anything  over  five  hun- 
dred livres  in  specie  was  deemed  an  offence  punish- 
able by  confiscation,  partial  or  wholesale,  and  by 
fine.  Domiciliary  visits  were  paid  to  seek  evidence 
of  offence  and  to  enforce  the  new  laws,  and  in- 
formers in  this  connection  were  well  paid. 

Then  began  a  war,  between  public  oppression 
and  individual  trickery,  to  defend  acquired  rights 
and  evade  unjust  demands.  The  holders  of  paper 
money,  unable  to  realise  in  specie,  tried  to  protect 
themselves  by  purchasing  goods  of  intrinsic  value. 
Precious  metals,  jewels,  and  such  like  were  bought 
in  such  quantities  that  the  supplies  diminished  and 
the  prices  grew,  until  to  avoid  immediate  ruin,  such 
purchases  were  proclaimed  illegal  and  prohibited. 
Then  ordinary  commodities  of  lesser  values  were 
tried  as  means  of  barter,  till  their  prices  too  rose  to 
such  an  extent  that  trade  was  paralysed.  In  order 
to  meet  the  growing  danger  a  still  more  desperate 
expedient  was  resorted  to.  A  decree  was  issued 
the  effect  of  which  would  be  to  reduce — grad- 
ually it  was  hoped — the  obligation  of  bank  notes 
to  one-half  their  nominal  value.  This  completed 
the  panic,  for  here  was  a  position  which  could  not 
be  guarded  against  by  any  prudence  or  wisdom. 

JOHN  LAW  133 

No  one  could  henceforth  by  any  possibility  be 
financially  safe.  The  speculators  who  had  already 
realised  were  alone  safe.  Bona  fide  investors,  if 
not  already  overwhelmed  by  disaster,  saw  the  tide 
of  ruin  rising  rapidly  around  them.  Nothing 
within  the  power  of  the  state  could  now  be  done  to 
check  or  even  lessen  the  state  of  panic;  not  even 
the  reversal  of  the  late  decree  in  ten  days  after  its 
issue.  To  make  matters  still  worse  the  Banque 
at  this  very  time  suspended  payment.  Probably 
in  a  wild  endeavour  to  do  something  which  would 
avert  odium  from  itself  by  saddling  the  responsi- 
bility on  someone  else,  the  Government  procured 
the  dismissal  of  Law  from  the  Controller-Gen- 
eralship of  Finance.  However — strange  to  say — 
he  was  very  soon  appointed  by  the  Regent  as  In- 
tendant-General  of  Commerce  and  Director  of  the 
ruined  bank.  The  much-vaunted,  idolised,  and  be- 
lieved-in  "System"  had  now  fallen  hopelessly  and 
was  ruined  forever.  Law  was  everywhere  at- 
tacked and  insulted  with  such  unmitigated  rancour 
that  he  had  to  leave  the  country.  He  had  invested 
the  bulk  of  the  great  fortune  which  he  had  by  now 
acquired,  in  estates  in  France;  and  these  together 
with  everything  else  that  he  had  were  now  con- 

At  the  end  of  the  same  year,  1720,  whilst  he  was 
at  Brussels  he  was  asked  by  the  command  of  the 
Czar  (Peter) ,  to  administer  the  finances  of  Russia, 
but  declined.     After  this  episode,  grateful  to  a 


broken  man,  he  spent  a  couple  of  years  wandering 
about  Italy  and  Germany  and  probably  gaining  a 
fluctuating  income  through  gambling.  Next  he 
was  to  be  found  in  Copenhagen  where  he  had 
sought  sanctuary  from  his  creditors.  Next  year 
there  was  an  outward  change  in  his  status,  when  he 
went  to  England,  on  a  ship  of  war,  at  the  invita- 
tion of  the  Government.  There  he  was  presented 
to  George  I.  Somewhat  to  his  chagrin  he  was  de- 
nounced in  the  House  of  Lords  as  a  Catholic — (he 
had  abjured  his  old  belief  of  Protestantism  before 
accepting  the  high  office  of  Controller-General  of 
Finances  in  1720) — and  an  adherent  of  the  Pre- 
tender. He  pleaded  in  the  King's  Bench  the 
Royal  pardon  for  the  murder  of  Beau  Austin  which 
had  been  sent  to  him  in  1719.  He  spent  the  suc- 
ceeding few  years  in  England  whence  he  corre- 
sponded with  the  Duke  of  Orleans.  He  expected 
to  be  recalled  to  France  but  his  hope  was  never 
realised.  He  wished  to  go  to  the  Continent  but 
was  practically  a  prisoner  in  England,  fearing  to 
leave  it  lest  he  should  be  arrested  by  his  creditors, 
amongst  whom  was  the  new  French  East  India 
Company  which  had  been  reconstructed  on  the  ruins 
of  the  old.  In  1725  Sir  Robert  Walpole,  then 
Prime  Minister,  asked  Lord  Townshend,  the  Sec- 
retary of  State,  to  give  Law  a  King's  commission 
of  some  sort,  so  that  such  might  serve  for  his  pro- 
tection. In  the  same  year  he  went  to  Italy.  He 
died  in  Venice  in  1729,  in  what,  compared  with  his 

JOHN  LAW  135 

former  state,  was  poverty.  To  the  last  he  was  a 
gambler,  always  ready  to  take  long  risks  for  a  pros- 
pect, however  remote,  of  large  gain.  A  story  is 
told  that  in  his  last  years  he  wagered  his  last  thou- 
sand pounds  to  a  shilling  (20,000  to  1)  against  the 
throwing  of  double  sixes  six  consecutive  times. 
The  law  of  chances  was  with  him  and  naturally  he 
won.  He  renewed  his  wager  but  the  authorities 
would  not  allow  the  further  gamble  to  take  place. 

John  Law  married,  quite  early  in  life,  the 
daughter  of  the  Earl  of  Banbury  and  widow  of 
Mr.  Seignior.  His  widow  died  in  174>7.  Some  of 
the  members  of  his  family  were  not  undistin- 
guished; his  son  died  a  Colonel  in  the  Austrian 
service;  and  one  of  his  nephews  became  Comte  de 
Lauriston  and  rose  to  be  a  General  in  the  French 
army  and  Aide-de-Camp  to  the  first  Napoleon. 
He  was  made  a  Marshal  of  France  by  Louis 

John  Law  was  a  handsome  and  distinguished- 
looking  man,  blonde,  with  small  dark  grey  eyes 
and  fresh  complexion.  He  made  an  agreeable  im- 
pression on  strangers.  Saint-Simon,  the  social 
historian,  gave  him  a  good  character:  "innocent  of 
greed  and  knavery,  a  mild  good  man  whom  for- 
tune had  not  spoilt."  Others  of  his  time  regarded 
him  as  a  pioneer  of  modern  statesmanship. 

How  is  it  then  that  such  a  man  must  be  set  down 
an  impostor?  In  historical  perspective  as  an  im- 
postor he  must  be  regarded,  though  not  as  such  in 


the  narrowest  view.  The  answer  is  that  his  very 
prominence  sits  amongst  his  judges.  Lesser  men, 
and  greater  men  of  lesser  position,  might  well  stand 
excused  in  matters  wherein  he  is  accorded  condem- 

"That  in  the  Captain's  but  a  choleric  word 
Which  in  the  soldier  is  flat  blasphemy." 

If,  when  a  man  plays  a  game  wherein  life  and 
death  and  the  fortunes  of  many  thousands  are  in- 
volved, it  behoves  him  to  be  at  least  careful,  much 
greater  is  his  responsibility  where  the  prosperity 
and  happiness  of  nations  are  at  stake.  Had  Law 
merely  started  new  theories  of  finance,  and  had 
they  gone  wrong,  he  might  well  claim,  and  be  ac- 
corded, excuse.  But  his  were  inventions  of  what, 
in  modern  slang,  is  called  "get-rich-quick"  prin- 
ciples. Not  only  did  Law  not  enrich  human  life — 
with  one  exception,  that  of  enlarging  the  currency 
in  use — or  add  to  the  sum  total  of  human  well-be- 
ing and  happiness;  he  even  neglected  to  show  that 
forethought  and  consideration  for  others  which  in 
all  honour  ought  to  be  exercised  by  the  deviser  and 
controller  of  great  risks.  He  was  a  gambler,  and 
a  gambler  only.  He  merely  put  into  the  pockets 
of  some  persons  that  which  he  had  taken  out  of  the 
pockets  of  others;  and  in  doing  so  showed  no  con- 
sideration for  the  poor,  the  thrifty,  the  needy — 
for  any  of  those  whose  contentment  and  happiness 
depend  on  such  as  are  in  high  places  and  dowered 

JOHN  LAW  137 

in  some  way  with  productive  powers.  The  soulless 
uneducated  churl  who  does  an  honest  day's  work 
does  more  for  humanity  than  the  genius  who  merely 
shifts  about  the  already  garnered  wealth  of  ages. 
John  Law  posed  as  a  benefactor  and  accepted  all 
the  benefits  that  accrued  to  him  from  the  praises  of 
those  who  followed  in  his  wake  and  gleaned  the 
rich  wastage  of  his  empire-moving  theories  and 
schemes.  Financiers  of  Law's  type  no  more  bene- 
fit a  country  or  enrich  a  people  than  do  the  hordes 
of  wasters  and  "tape"-betting  men  who  prey  on 
labour  as  locusts  do  on  the  crops.  If  they  wish  not 
to  do  unnecessary  harm — which  is  putting  their 
duty  at  the  lowest  possible  estimate — they  should  at 
least  try  to  avoid  repeating  the  errors  which  have 
wrecked  others.  A  brief  glance  at  the  wreckage 
which  lay  well  within  the  Scotch  gambler's  vision, 
will  show  how  he  shut  his  eyes  deliberately  not  only 
to  facts,  but  to  the  many  correlations  of  cause  and 
effect.  Before  his  Mississippi  Scheme  was  for- 
mulated, there  had  been  experience  of  banking  en- 
terprises, of  schemes  for  mercantile  combination 
and  for  the  exploitation  of  capital,  of  adventurous 
dealings  in  the  developments  of  countries  new  and 
more  or  less  savage,  East  and  West  and  South. 

The  following  list  will  typify.  Of  all  these  John 
Law  had  knowledge  sufficient  to  judge  of  diffi- 
culties to  be  encountered  in  the  early  stages,  of 
dangers  not  only  incidental  to  the  things  them- 
selves, but  based  deep  in  human  nature. 


The  East  India  Company  founded  in  1600 
The  Bank  of  England  founded  in  1694 
The  Africa  Company  founded  in  1695 
The    Darien    Company    founded    in    1695 

A  glance  at  each  of  these,  all  of  which  were  within 
the  scope  and  knowledge  of  Law,  their  aims,  for- 
mation and  development,  up  to  the  time  spoken  of, 
can  hardly  fail  to  be  illuminative.  The  six- 
teenth century  had  been  an  age  of  adventure 
and  discovery ;  the  seventeenth  of  the  foundation  of 
great  commercial  enterprise,  of  conception  of  ideas, 
of  the  constructive  beginnings  of  things.  The  time 
for  development  had  come  with  the  eighteenth;  and 
now  care  and  forethought,  prudence  and  resource, 
were  the  preparations  for  success. 

The  East  India  Company  was  in  reality  the 
pioneer  of  corporate  trading,  and  as  for  nearly  a 
hundred  years  it  was  in  a  measure  alone  in  its  scale 
of  magnitude,  its  experiences  could  well  serve  as 
exemplar,  guide,  and  danger  signal.  It  was  based 
on  that  surest  of  all  undertakings,  natural  growth. 
It  came  into  existence  because  it  was  wanted,  and 
from  no  other  cause.  Its  very  name,  its  modest 
capital,  its  self-protective  purpose  make  for  under- 

In  its  Charter  of  Incorporation  its  purpose  was 
indicated  in  the  name:  "The  Governor  and  Com- 
pany of  Merchants  of  London  trading  to  the  East 
Indies."     Its  capital  was  £70,000,  which  though 

JOHN  LAW  139 

a  large  sum  for  those  days,  was,  according  to  our 
modern  lights,  an  almost  ridiculously  small  sum  for 
the  object  then  before  it,  and  to  which  it  ultimately 
attained.  The  time  was  ripe  for  just  such  an  un- 

The  Peace  of  Vervins  (1598)  which  left  both 
France  and  Spain  free  to  look  after  their  domestic 
concerns,  was  immediately  followed  by  the  Edict  of 
Nantes  (1599)  which  gave  religious  liberty  to 
France,  and  such  a  new  freedom  is  always  followed 
by  national  expansion.  By  this  time  Spain — the 
explorer  or  conqueror — and  Holland — the  patient 
organiser — held  Eastern  commerce  in  their  hands. 
England  had  been  gradually  making  a  commerce 
of  her  own  in  the  Indies,  and  all  that  was  required 
was  an  official  acknowledgment,  so  that  the  thunder 
of  her  guns  should,  when  required,  follow  the 
creaking  of  her  cordage.  From  the  story  of  this 
great  enterprise,  through  its  first  twenty-five  years, 
could  be  drawn  the  lesson  of  such  schemes  as  Law 
was  now  formulating.  Though  it  had  succeeded, 
in  spite  of  Dutch  and  Portuguese  opposition,  in 
establishing  "factories"  when  the  historic  massacre 
by  the  Dutch  at  Amboyna  in  the  Molucca  Islands, 
took  place  in  1725,  the  Eastern  Company  seemed 
near  its  dissolution.  It  was  not  till  the  establish- 
ment of  the  Hooghly  factory  in  1742  that  things 
began  to  look  up.  After  that,  fortune  favoured 
the  Company  more  than  she  had  appeared  likely 
to  do  at  the  start.     The  marriage  of  Charles  II  to 


Catherine  of  Braganza  in  1661  brought  progress 
in  its  train.  Catherine's  dower,  which  included 
Bombay  and  so  put  a  part  of  Portugal's  later  pos- 
sessions in  British  keeping,  greatly  stimulated  the 
East  India  Company  which  thenceforth  was  able 
to  weather  the  storms  that  threatened  or  assailed. 
The  privilege  of  making  war  on  its  own  account, 
conceded  by  Charles  II,  gave  the  Company  a  na- 
tional importance  which  was  destined  to  consolidate 
its  interests  with  those  of  England  itself.  So 
strong  did  it  become  that  before  the  end  of  the 
eighteenth  century  it  was  able  to  resist  the  attack  on 
its  charter  made  by  a  powerful  and  progressive 
rival,  the  "New  Company."  The  rivals,  after  a  few 
years  of  pourparlers  and  tentative  efforts,  were 
united  in  1708;  and  thenceforth  the  amalgamation, 
under  the  title  "The  United  Company  of  Mer- 
chants of  England  trading  to  the  East  Indies,"  was 
practically  unassailable  on  its  own  account.  It  was 
additionally  safe  in  that  it  had  the  protection  of  the 
great  Whig  Party  under  Godolphin.  The  capital 
of  the  Company,  now  enlarged  to  £3,200,000,  was 
lent  to  the  Government  at  five  per  cent,  interest  and 
was  finally  merged  in  the  National  Funds.  The 
history  of  the  Company,  after  1717  does  not  belong 
here,  as  it  is  only  considered  as  showing  that  John 
Law  had  the  experience  of  an  earlier  Company 
similar  to  his  own  to  guide  him  in  its  management 
if  he  had  chosen  to  avail  himself  of  it. 

The  Bank  of  England  was,  strangely  enough, 

JOHN  LAW  141 

the  project  of  a   Scotchman,  William  Paterson. 
The  plan  was  submitted  to  Government  in  1691 
but  was  not  carried  into  existence  for  three  years. 
It  was  purely  a  business  concern,  brought  into 
effective  existence  through  the  needs  of  commerce, 
the  opportunity  afforded  being  the  need  of  the 
State  and  the  concern  of  the  statesman.     It  had  a 
capital    at   first   of   over   £1,200,000,    which   was 
loaned  to  the  nation  on  the  security  of  the  taxes 
when  the  Charter  was  signed,  there  being  certain 
safeguards  against  the  possibility  of  political  mis- 
use.    The  Controlling  Board  was  to  have  twenty- 
five  members  who  were  to  be  elected  annually  by 
the  stockholders  with  a  substantial  qualification. 
There  were  at  this  time  in  England  private  banks ; 
but  this  was  an  effort  to  formulate  the  banking 
rights,  duties,  and  powers  of  capital  under  the  a?gis 
of  the  State  itself.     But  even  so  sound  a  venture, 
enormously  popular  from  the  very  first  and  with 
the  whole  might  of  the  nation  behind  it,  had  its 
own   difficulties   to   encounter.     Its   instantaneous 
success  was  an  incentive  to  other  adventurers;  and 
the  co-operation  with  government  which  it  made 
manifest  created  jealousy  with  private  persons  and 
commercial  concerns.     Within  two  years  its  very 
existence  was  threatened,  first  by  the  individual 
hostility  of  those  in  the  bullion  trade,  who  already 
acted  as  bankers,  and  then  by  a  rival  concern  in- 
corporated under  strong  political  support.     This 
was  the  National  Land  Bank  whose  purpose  was  to 


use  the  security  of  real  estate  as  a  guarantee  for 
the  paper  money  which  it  issued  for  convenient 
usage.  Strong  as  the  Bank  of  England  was  by 
its  nature,  its  popularity,  and  its  support,  it  was 
in  actual  danger  until  the  rival  which  had  never 
"caught  on" — to  use  an  apposite  Americanism — 
actually  and  almost  instantaneously  collapsed. 

The  safety  thus  temporarily  obtained  was  pur- 
chased at  the  cost  to  the  Government  of  a  further 
loan  of  two  million  sterling — with  the  value  to  the 
contra  of  an  alliance  thus  begun  with  the  Whig 

A  further  danger  came  from  the  mad  and  mad- 
dening South  Sea  Scheme  five  years  later;  but 
from  which  it  was  happily  saved  solely  through  the 
greater  cupidity  and  daring  of  the  newer  company. 

The  Darien  Company,  which  followed  hard  on 
the  heels  of  The  African  Company,  was  formed  in 
1695,  by  Paterson;  on  the  base  of  An  Act  of  the 
Scottish  Parliament  for  the  purpose  of  making  an 
opening  for  Scottish  capital  after  the  manner  of 
the  East  India  Company  by  which  English  enter- 
prise had  already  so  largely  benefited.  Its  career 
was  of  such  short  duration  and  its  failure  so  com- 
plete that  there  was  little  difficulty  in  understanding 
the  causes  of  its  collapse.  It  might  serve  for  a 
pendant  of  Lamb's  criticism  of  the  meat  that  was 
"ill  fed  and  ill  killed,  ill  kept  and  ill  cooked."  The 
Company  was  started  to  utilise,  in  addition  to  ex- 
ploiting new  lands,  the  waste  of  time,  energy  and 

JOHN  LAW  143 

capital,  between  West  and  East;  and  yet  it  was  not 
till  the  first  trading  fleet  was  sailing  that  its  ob- 
jective was  made  known  to  the  adventurers.  Its 
ideas  of  trading  were  those  of  a  burlesque,  and  its 
materials  of  barter  with  tropical  savages  on  the 
criminal  side  of  the  ludicrous — bibles,  heavy 
woollen  stuffs  and  periwigs!  Naturally  a  couple 
of  years  finished  its  working  existence  and  "The 
rest  is  silence."  And  yet  at  the  inception  of  the 
scheme  two  great  nations  vied  with  one  another  for 
its  control. 

There  are  those  who  may  say  that  John  Law  was 
not  an  impostor,  but  a  great  financier  who  made  a 
mistake.     Financiers  must  not  make  mistakes — or 
else  they  must  be  classed  amongst  the  impostors; 
for  they  deal  with  the  goods  and  prospects  of 
others  as  well  as  their  own.     Law  was  simply  a 
gambler    on    a    great    scale.     He    led    a    nation, 
through  its  units,  to  believe  that  the  following  of 
his  ideas  would  lead  to  success.     Financial  schemes 
without  good  ideas  and  practical  working  to  carry 
them  out  are  deceptive  and  destructive.     The  Mis- 
sissippi Scheme  is  a  case  in  point.     If  the  original 
intention  had  been  carried  out  in  its  entirety — which 
involved  vast  pioneering  and  executive  action  of 
present  and  future  generations,  and  an  almost  ab- 
solute foregoing  of  immediate  benefits — the  result 
would  have  been  of  immense  service  to  the  successors 
in  title  of  the  original  ventures.     The  assessable 
value  of  the  real  estate  conveyed  under  the  Mis- 


sissippi  Scheme  to-day  equals  more  than  a  third  of 
the  present  gigantic  National  Debt  of  France, 
swollen  though  the  latter  is  by  the  Napoleonic  wars, 
the  war  with  Austria,  the  cost  and  indemnity  of  the 
war  with  Germany,  and,  in  addition,  by  the  long 
wars  with  England  and  Russia. 

If  human  beings  had  been  angels,  content  with 
the  prospect  of  gains  in  the  distant  future.  Law's 
schemes  might  have  succeeded.  As  it  was,  he, 
working  for  his  own  purposes  with  an  imperfect 
humanity,  can  only  be  judged  by  results. 



A.      THE   PERIOD 

FOR  convenience,  the  masculine  offender  is 
in  demonology  classed  under  the  female 
designation.  According  to  Michelet  and 
other  authorities  there  were  ten  thousand  alleged 
witches  for  each  alleged  wizard!  and  anyhow  there 
is  little  etiquette  as  to  the  precedence  of  ladies  in 
criminal  matters. 

The  first  English  Statute  dealing  directly  with 
witches  appears  to  be  the  thirty-third  of  Henry 
VIII  (1541)  which  brought  into  the  list  of  fel- 
onies persons  "devising  or  practising  conjurations, 
witchcraftes,  sorcerie  or  inchantments  or  the  dig- 
ging up  of  corpses,"  and  depriving  such  of  the 
benefit  of  clergy.  It  was  however  repealed  by 
I  Edward  VI  Cap.  12,  and  again  by  I  Mary  (in 
its  first  section.).  Queen  Elizabeth,  however, 
passed  another  Act  (5  Elizabeth  Cap.  16)  prac- 
tically repeating  that  of  her  father,  which  had  been 
in  abeyance  for  more  than  thirty  years.  The  Stat- 
ute of  Elizabeth  is  exceedingly  interesting  in  that 
it  states  the  condition  of  the  law  at  that  time.  The 
opening  words  leave  no  misunderstanding : 

"Whereas  at  this  day  there  is  no  ordinary  nor  condigne  pun- 
ishment provided  against  the  wicked  offences  of  conjurations 



or  invocations  of  evil  spirits,  or  of  sorceries,  inchantments, 
charmes  or  witchcraftes,  which  be  practised  to  the  obstruction 
of  the  persons  and  goods  of  the  Queene's  subjects,  or  for 
other  lewd  purposes.  Be  it  enacted  that  if  any  person  or 
persons  after  the  first  day  of  June  next  coming,  shall  use  prac- 
tice, or  exercise  any  invocations,  or  conjurations,  of  evill  or 
wicked  spirits,  to  or  for  any  intent  or  purpose,  or  else  if  any 
person  or  persons  after  the  said  first  day  of  June  shal  use, 
practice  or  exercise  any  witchcraft,  enchantment,  charme  or 
sorcerie,  whereby  any  person  shall  happen  to  be  killed  or  de- 
stroied,  that  then  as  well  every  such  offendour  or  offendours 
in  invocations,  or  conjurations,  as  is  aforesayde,  their  aydours 
and  counsellors,  as  also  everie  such  oifendour  or  offendours  in 
that  Witchcrafte,  enchantment,  charme  or  sorcerie  whereby  the 
death  of  any  person  doth  ensue,  their  ayders  and  counsellors, 
being  of  eyther  of  the  sayde  offences  lawfully  convicted  and 
attainted,  shall  suffer  paines  of  death,  as  a  felon  or  felons, 
and  shall  lose  the  privilege  and  benefit  of  Clergy  and  sanctu- 
ary," &c. 

In  this  act  lesser  penalties  are  imposed  for  using 
any  form  of  witchcraft  or  sorcery,  for  inducing  to 
any  persons  harm,  or  to  "provoke  any  person  to 
unlawfull  love  or  to  hurt  or  destroy  any  person  in 
his  or  her  bodye,  member  or  goods,"  or  for  the  dis- 
covery or  recovery  of  treasure.  From  that  time 
down  to  the  first  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
when  the  law  practically  died  out,  witchcraft  had 
its  place  in  the  category  of  legal  offences.  The 
law  was  finally  repealed  by  an  Act  in  the  tenth  year 
of  George  II.  The  sixteenth  and  seventeenth  cen- 
turies were  the  time  of  witch-fever,  and  in  that 
period,  especially  in  its  earlier  days  when  the  belief 


had  become  epidemic,  it  was  ruthless  and  destruc- 
tive. It  is  said  that  in  Genoa  five  hundred  persons 
were  burned  within  three  months  in  the  year  1515, 
and  a  thousand  in  the  diocese  of  Como  in  a  year. 
Round  numbers  in  such  matters  are  to  be  distrusted, 
as  we  find  they  seldom  bear  investigation ;  but  there 
is  little  doubt  that  in  France  and  Germany  vast 
numbers  suffered  and  perished.  Even  in  more  pro- 
saic and  less  emotional  England  there  were  many 
thousands  of  judicial  murders  in  this  wise.  It  is 
asserted  that  within  two  centuries  they  totalled 
thirty  thousand. 

It  is  startling  to  find  such  a  weird  and  impossible 
credulity  actually  rooted  in  the  Statute  book  of 
one's  own  country,  and  that  there  are  records  of 
judges  charging  juries  to  convict.  Sir  Matthew 
Hale,  a  great  lawyer,  a  judge  of  the  Common  Pleas 
in  1654,  and  Lord  Chief  Justice  in  1671,  was  a  firm 
believer  in  witchcraft.  He  was  a  grave  and  pious 
man,  and  all  his  life  was  an  ardent  student  of  the- 
ology as  well  as  of  law.  And  yet  in  1664  he  sen- 
tenced women  to  be  burned  as  witches.  In  1716 
a  mother  and  daughter — the  latter  only  nine  years 
of  age — were  hanged  in  Huntingdon.  In  Scot- 
land the  last  case  of  a  woman  being  condemned  as 
a  witch  occurred  at  Dornoch  in  1722. 

It  is  no  easy  task  in  these  days,  which  are  ration- 
alistic, iconoclastic  and  enquiring,  to  understand 
how  the  commonalty  not  only  believed  in  witchcraft 
but  acted  on  that  belief.     Probably  the  most  tol- 


erant  view  we  can  take,  is  that  both  reason  and 
enquiry  are  essential  and  rudimentary  principles  of 
human  nature.  Every  person  of  normal  faculties 
likes  to  know  and  understand  the  reasons  of  things ; 
and  inquisitiveness  is  not  posterior  to  the  period  of 
maternal  alimentation.  If  we  seek  for  a  cause  we 
are  bound  to  find  one — even  if  it  be  wrong.  Omne 
ignotum  pro  magnifico  has  a  wide  if  not  always  a 
generous  meaning;  and  when  fear  is  founded  on, 
if  not  inspired  by  ignorance,  that  unthinking  feroc- 
ity which  is  one  of  our  birthrights  from  Adam  is 
apt  to  carry  us  further  than  we  ever  meant  to  go. 
In  an  age  more  clear-seeing  than  our  own  and  less 
selfish  we  shall  not  think  so  poorly  of  primitive 
emotions  as  we  are  at  present  apt  to.  On  the  con- 
trary we  shall  begin  to  understand  that  in  times 
when  primitivity  holds  sway,  we  are  most  in  touch 
with  the  loftiest  things  we  are  capable  of  under- 
standing, and  our  judgment,  being  complex,  is 
most  exact.  Indeed  in  this  branch  of  the  subject 
persons  used  to  call  to  aid  a  special  exercise  of  our 
natural  forces — the  aesthetic.  When  witchcraft  was 
a  belief,  the  common  idea  was  that  that  noxious 
power  was  almost  entirely  held  by  the  old  and  ugly. 
The  young,  fresh,  and  beautiful,  were  seldom  ac- 
cepted as  witches  save  by  the  novelty-loving  few 
or  those  of  sensual  nature.  This  was  perhaps  for- 
tunate— if  the  keeping  down  of  the  population  in 
this  wise  was  necessary;  it  is  easier  as  well  as  safer 
to   murder   the   uncomely   than   those   of   greater 


charm.  In  any  case  there  was  no  compunction 
about  obliterating  the  former  class.  The  general 
feeling  was  much  the  same  as  that  in  our  own  time 
which  in  sporting  circles  calls  for  the  destruction 
of  vermin. 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  the  profession  of  witch- 
craft,  if   occasionally   lucrative,    was   nevertheless 
always  accompanied  with  danger  and  execration. 
This  was  natural  enough  since  the  belief  which  made 
witchcraft  dangerous  was  based  on  fear.     It  is  not 
too  much  to  say  that  in  every  case,  professed  witch- 
craft   was    an    expression    of    fraudulent    intent. 
Such  pity,  therefore,  as  the  subject  allows  of  must 
be  confined  to  the  guiltless  victims  who,  despite 
blameless  life,  were  tried  by  passion,  judged  by 
frenzy,  and  executed  by  remorseless  desperation. 
There  could  be  no  such  thing  as  quantitative  analy- 
sis of  guilt  with  regard  to  the  practice  of  witch- 
craft: any  kind  of  playing  with  the  subject  was 
a  proof  of  some  kind  of  wrongful  intent,  and  was 
to  be  judged  with  Draconian  severity.     Doubtless 
it  was  a  very  simple  way  of  dealing  with  evils,  much 
resembling  the  medical  philosophy  of  the  Chinese. 
The  whole  logic  of  it  can  be  reduced  to  a  sorites. 
Any   change    from   the   normal   is   the   work   of 
the  devil — or  a  devil  as  the  case  may  be.     Find 
out  the  normal  residence   of  that   especial  devil 
— which  is  in  some  human  being.     Destroy  the 
devil's  dwelling.     You  get  rid  of  the  devil.     It 
is  pure  savagery  of  the  most  primitive  kind.     And 


it  is  capable  of  expansion,  for  logic  is  a  fertile  plant, 
and  when  its  premises  are  wrong  it  has  the  fecun- 
dity of  a  weed.  'Before  even  a  savage  can  have 
time  to  breathe,  his  logic  is  piling  so  fast  on  him 
that  he  is  smothered.  If  a  human  being  is  a  devil 
then  the  club  which  destroys  him  or  her  is  an  incar- 
nation of  good,  and  so  a  god  to  be  worshipped  in 
some  form — or  at  any  rate  to  be  regarded  with 
esteem,  like  a  sword,  or  a  legal  wig,  or  a  steth- 
oscope, or  a  paint-brush,  or  a  shovel,  or  a  compass, 
or  a  drinking-vessel,  or  a  pen.  If  all  the  neces- 
sary conditions  of  life  and  sanity  and  comfort  were 
on  so  primitive  a  base,  what  an  easy  world  it  would 
be  to  live  in! 

One  benefit  there  was  in  witchcraft,  though  it 
was  not  recognised  officially  as  such  at  the  time. 
It  created  a  new  industry — a  whole  crop  of  indus- 
tries. It  is  of  the  nature  of  belief  that  it  encour- 
ages belief — not  always  of  exactly  the  same  kind — 
but  of  some  form  which  intelligence  can  turn  into 
profit.  We  cannot  find  any  good  in  the  new  in- 
dustry— grapes  do  not  grow  on  thorns  nor  figs  on 
thistles.  The  sum  of  human  happiness  was  in  no 
sense  augmented ;  but  at  least  a  good  deal  of  money 
or  money's  worth  changed  hands;  which,  after  all, 
is  as  much  as  most  of  the  great  financiers  can  point 
to  as  the  result  of  long  and  strenuous  success.  In 
the  organisation  of  this  form  of  crime  there  were 
many  classes,  of  varying  risks  and  of  benefits  in 
inverse  ratio  to  them.     For  the  ordinary  rule  of 


finance  holds  even  here:  large  interest  means  bad 
security.  First  there  were  the  adventurers  them- 
selves who  took  the  great  risks  of  life  and  its 
collaterals — esteem,  happiness,  &c.  The  money  ob- 
tained by  this  class  was  usually  secured  by  fraudu- 
lent sales  of  worthless  goods  or  by  the  simple  old 
financial  device  of  blackmail.  Then  there  were 
those  who  were  in  reality  merely  parasites  on  the 
pleasing  calling — those  timorous  souls  who  let  "  'I 
dare  not'  wait  upon  'I  would'  like  the  poor  cat  i' 
the  adage."  These  were  altogether  in  a  poorer  way 
of  trade  than  their  bolder  brothers  and  sisters. 
They  lacked  courage,  and  sometimes  even  sufficient 
malice  for  the  proper  doing  of  their  work ;  with  the 
result  that  success  seldom  attended  them  at  all,  and 
never  heartily.  But  at  any  rate  they  could  not 
complain  of  inadequate  punishment;  whenever  re- 
ligious zeal  flamed  up  they  were  generally  promi- 
nent victims.  They  can  in  reality  only  be  regarded 
as  specimens  of  parasitic  growth.  Then  there 
came  the  class  known  in  French  criminal  circles  as 
agents  provocateurs,  whose  business  was  not  only 
to  further  ostensible  crime  but  to  work  up  the  oppo- 
sition against  it.  Either  branch  of  their  art  would 
probably  be  inadequate;  but  by  finking  their  serv- 
ices they  managed  to  eke  out  a  livelihood.  Lastly 
there  was  the  lowest  grade  of  all,  the  Witch-finder 
— a  loathly  calling,  comparable  only  to  the  class  or 
guild  of  "paraskistae"  or  "rippers"  in  the  ritual 
of  the  Mummy  industry  of  ancient  Egypt. 


Of  these  classes  we  may  I  think  consider  some 
choice  specimens — so  far  as  we  may  fittingly  inves- 
tigate the  personnel  of  a  by-gone  industry.  Of 
the  main  body,  that  of  Wizards  and  Witches  or 
those  pretending  to  the  cult,  let  us  take  Doctor 
Dee  and  Madame  Voisin,  and  Sir  Edward  Kelley 
and  Mother  Damnable — thus  representing  the 
method  of  the  procession  of  the  unclean  animals 
from  the  Ark.  Of  the  class  of  Witchfinders  one 
example  will  probably  be  as  much  as  we  can  stand, 
and  we  will  naturally  take  the  one  who  obtained 
fame  in  his  calling — namely  Matthew  Hopkins, 
who  stands  forth  like  Satan,  "by  merit  raised  to  that 
bad  eminence." 


EVEN  a  brief  survey  of  the  life  of  the  cele- 
brated "Doctor  Dee,"  the  so-called  "Wiz- 
ard" of  the  sixteenth  century,  will  leave 
any  honest  reader  under  the  impression  that  in 
the  perspective  of  history  he  was  a  much  maligned 
man.  If  it  had  not  been  that  now  and  again  he 
was  led  into  crooked  bye-paths  of  alleged  occult- 
ism, his  record  might  have  stood  out  as  that  of  one 
of  the  most  accomplished  and  sincere  of  the  scien- 
tists of  his  time.  He  was  in  truth,  whatever  were 
his  faults,  more  sinned  against  than  sinning.  If 
the  English  language  is  not  so  elastic  as  some  oth- 
ers in  the  matter  of  meaning  of  phrases,  the  same 
or  a  greater  effect  can  be  obtained  by  a  careful  use 
of  the  various  dialects  of  the  British  Empire.  In 
the  present  case  we  may,  if  English  lacks,  well  call 
on  some  of  the  varieties  of  Scotch  terminology. 
The  intellectual  status  of  the  prime  wizard,  as  he 
is  held  to  be  in  general  opinion,  can  be  well  indi- 
cated by  any  of  the  following  words  or  phrases 
"wanting,"  "crank,"  "a  tile  off,"  "a  wee  bit  saft," 
"a  bee  in  his  bonnet."  Each  of  these  is  indicative 
of  some  form  of  monomania,  generally  harmless. 
If  John  Dee  had  not  had  some  great  qualities,  such 



negative  weaknesses  would  have  prevented  his  rep- 
utation ever  achieving  a  permanent  place  in  history 
of  any  kind.  As  it  is  his  place  was  won  by  many 
accomplished  facts.  The  following  is  a  broad  out- 
line of  his  life,  which  was  a  long  one  lasting  for 
over  eighty  years. 

John  Dee  was  born  in  1527,  and  came  of  a  Welsh 
race.  A  good  many  years  after  his  start  in  life 
he,  after  the  harmless  fashion  of  those  (and  other) 
times,  made  out  a  family  tree  in  which  it  was  shewn 
that  he  was  descended  from,  among  other  royalties, 
Roderick  the  Great,  Prince  of  Wales.  This  little 
effort  of  vanity  did  not,  however,  change  anything. 
The  world  cared  then  about  such  things  almost  as 
little  as  it  does  now;  or,  allowing  for  the  weakness 
of  human  beings  in  the  way  of  their  own  self- 
importance,  it  might  be  better  to  say  as  it  professes 
to  do  now.  John  Dee  was  sent  to  the  University 
of  Cambridge  when  he  was  only  fifteen  years  old. 
The  College  chosen  for  him  was  St.  John's,  and 
here  he  showed  extraordinary  application  in  his 
chosen  subject,  mathematics.  He  took  his  proba- 
tionary degree  of  Bachelor  of  Arts  in  1545,  and 
was  made  a  Fellow  in  1546.  In  his  early  years  of 
College  life  his  work  was  regulated  in  a  remark- 
able way.  Out  of  the  twenty-four  hours,  eighteen 
were  devoted  to  study,  four  to  sleep,  the  remaining 
two  being  set  apart  for  meals  and  recreation.  Lest 
this  should  seem  incredible  it  may  be  remembered 
that  three  hundred  years  later,  the  French  Jesuits, 


having  made  exhaustive  experiments,  arrived  at 
the  conclusion  that  for  mere  purposes  of  health, 
without  making  any  allowance  for  the  joy  or  hap- 
piness of  life,  and  treating  the  body  merely  as  a 
machine  from  which  the  utmost  amount  of  work 
mental  and  physical  could  be  got  without  injury, 
four  hours  of  sleep  per  diem  sufficed  for  health  and 
sanity.  And  it  is  only  natural  that  a  healthy  and 
ambitious  young  man  trying  to  work  his  way  to 
success  would,  or  might  have  been,  equally  stren- 
uous and  self-denying.  His  appointment  as  Fel- 
low of  St.  John's  was  one  of  those  made  when  the 
College  was  founded.  That  he  was  skilled  in  other 
branches  of  learning  was  shown  by  the  fact  that 
in  the  University  he  was  appointed  as  Under 
Reader  in  Greek.  He  was  daring  in  the  practical 
application  of  science,  and  during  the  representa- 
tion of  one  of  the  comedies  of  Aristophanes,  cre- 
ated such  a  sensation  by  appearing  to  fly,  that  he 
began  to  be  credited  by  his  companions  with  mag- 
ical powers.  This  was  probably  the  beginning  of 
the  sinister  reputation  which  seemed  to  follow  him 
all  his  life  afterwards.  When  once  an  idea  of  the 
kind  has  been  started  even  the  simplest  facts  of  life 
and  work  seem  to  gather  round  it  and  enlarge  it 
indefinitely.  So  far  as  we  can  judge  after  a  lapse 
of  over  three  hundred  years,  John  Dee  was  an  eager 
and  ardent  seeker  after  knowledge ;  and  all  through 
his  life  he  travelled  in  the  search  wherever  he  was 
likely  to  gain  his  object.     It  is  a  main  difficulty  of 


following  such  a  record  that  we  have  only  facts  to 
follow.  We  know  little  or  nothing  of  motives  ex- 
cept from  results,  and  as  in  the  development  of 
knowledge  the  measure  of  success  can  only  bear 
a  small  ratio  to  that  of  endeavour,  it  is  manifest 
that  we  should  show  a  large  and  tolerant  under- 
standing of  the  motives  which  animate  the  seeker 
for  truth.  In  the  course  of  his  long  life  John  Dee 
visited  many  lands,  sojourned  in  many  centres  of 
learning,  had  relations  of  common  interests  as  well 
as  of  friendship  with  many  great  scholars,  and 
made  as  thinker,  mathematician,  and  astronomer, 
a  reputation  far  transcending  any  ephemeral  and 
purely  gaseous  publicity  arising  from  the  open- 
mouthed  wonder  of  the  silly  folk  who  are  not  cap- 
able of  even  trying  to  understand  things  beyond 
their  immediate  ken.  Wherever  he  went  he  seems 
to  have  been  in  touch  with  the  learned  and  pro- 
gressive men  of  his  time,  and  always  a  student. 
At  various  times  he  was  in  the  Low  Countries, 
Louvain  (from  whose  University  he  obtained  the 
degree  of  LL.D.),  Paris,  Wurtemberg,  Antwerp, 
Presburg,  Lorraine,  Frankfort-on-the-Oder,  Bo- 
hemia, Cracow,  Prague,  and  Hesse- Cassel.  He 
even  went  so  far  afield  as  St.  Helena.  He  was 
engaged  on  some  great  works  of  more  than  national 
importance.  For  instance,  when  in  1582,  Pope 
Gregory  XIII  instituted  the  reform  of  the  Cal- 
endar which  was  adopted  by  most  of  the  great  na- 
tions of  the  world,  Dee  approved  and  worked  out 


his  own  calculations  to  an  almost  similar  conclusion, 
though  the  then  opposition  to  him  cost  England 
a  delay  of  over  one  hundred  and  seventy  years.  In 
1572  he  had  proved  his  excellence  as  an  astronomer 
in  his  valuable  work  in  relation  to  a  newly  dis- 
covered star  (Tycho  Brahe's)  in  Cassiopceia.  In 
1580  he  made  a  complete  geographical  and  hydro- 
graphical  map  of  the  Queen's  possessions.  He 
tried — but  unhappily  in  vain — to  get  Queen  Mary 
to  gather  the  vast  collections  of  manuscripts  and  old 
books  which  had  been  made  in  the  Monasteries 
(broken  up  by  Henry  VIII)  of  which  the  major 
part  were  then  to  be  obtained  both  easily  and 
cheaply.  He  was  a  Doctor  of  Laws  (which  by  the 
way  was  his  only  claim  to  be  called  "Doctor"  Dee, 
the  title  generally  accorded  to  him) .  He  was  made 
a  rector  in  Worcestershire  in  1553;  and  in  1556, 
Archbishop  Parker  gave  him  ten  years'  use  of  the 
livings  of  Upton  and  Long  Leadenham.  He  was 
made  Warden  of  Manchester  College  in  1595,  and 
was  named  by  Queen  Elizabeth  as  Chancellor  of 
St.  Paul's.  In  1564,  he  was  appointed  Dean  of 
Gloucester,  though  through  his  own  neglect  of  his 
own  interest  it  was  never  carried  out.  The  Queen 
approved,  the  Archbishop  sealed  the  deed ;  but  Dee, 
unmindful,  overlooked  the  formality  of  acceptance 
and  the  gift  eventually  went  elsewhere.  Queen 
Elizabeth,  who  consistently  believed  in  and  admired 
him,  wanted  to  make  him  a  bishop,  but  he  declined 
the  responsibility.     For  once  the  formality  at  con- 


secration:  "Nolo  Episcopari"  was  spoken  with 
truthful  lips.  More  than  once  he  was  despatched 
to  foreign  places  to  make  special  report  in  the 
Queen's  service.  That  he  did  not — always,  at  all 
events — put  private  interest  before  public  duty  is 
shown  by  his  refusal  to  accept  two  rectories  offered 
to  him  by  the  Queen  in  1576,  urging  as  an  excuse 
that  he  was  unable  to  find  time  for  the  necessary 
duties,  since  he  was  too  busily  occupied  in  making 
calculations  for  the  reformation  of  the  Calendar. 
He  seems  to  have  lived  a  most  proper  life,  and 
was  twice  married.  After  a  long  struggle  with 
adversity  in  which — last  despair  of  a  scholar — he 
had  to  sell  his  books,  he  died  very  poor,  just  as  he 
was  preparing  to  migrate.  At  his  death  in  1608 
he  left  behind  him  no  less  than  seventy-nine  works 
— nearly  one  for  each  year  of  his  life.  Just  after 
the  time  of  the  Armada,  following  on  some  cor- 
respondence with  Queen  Elizabeth,  he  had  returned 
to  England  after  long  and  adventurous  experi- 
ences in  Poland  and  elsewhere,  during  which  he  had 
known  what  it  was  to  receive  the  honours  and 
affronts  of  communities.  He  took  back  with  him 
the  reputation  of  being  a  sorcerer,  one  which  he 
had  never  courted  and  which  so  rankled  in  him  that 
many  years  afterwards  he  petitioned  James  I  to 
have  him  tried  so  that  he  might  clear  his  character. 
If  there  be  any  truth  whatever  in  the  theory  that 
men  have  attendant  spirits,  bad  as  well  as  good, 
Dr.  Dee's  bad  spirit  took  the  shape  of  one  who 


pretended  to  occult  knowledge,  the  so-called  Sir 
Edward  Kelley  of  whom  we  shall  have  something  to 
say  later  on. 

Dee  was  fifty-four  years  of  age  when  he  met 
Sir  Edward  Kelley  who  was  twenty-eight  years 
his  junior.  The  two  men  became  friends,  and  then 
the  old  visionary  scholar  at  once  became  dominated 
by  his  younger  and  less  scrupulous  companion,  who 
very  soon  became  his  partner.  From  that  time 
Dee's  down-fall — or  rather  down-slide  began.  All 
the  longings  after  occult  belief  which  he  had 
hitherto  tried  to  hold  in  check  began  not  only  to 
manifest  themselves,  but  to  find  expression.  His 
science  became  merged  in  alchemy,  his  astronomical 
learning  was  forced  into  the  service  of  Astrology. 
His  belief,  which  he  as  a  cleric  held  before  him  as 
a  duty,  was  lost  in  spiritualism  and  other  forms  of 
occultism.  He  began  to  make  use  for  practical 
purposes  of  his  crystal  globe  and  his  magic  mirror 
in  which  he  probably  had  for  long  believed  secretly. 
Kelley  practically  ruined  his  reputation  by  using 
for  his  own  purposes  the  influence  which  he  had 
over  the  old  man.  His  opportunities  were  in- 
creased by  the  arrival  in  England  of  Laski,  about 
1583.  The  two  scholars  had  many  ideas  in  com- 
mon, and  Kelley  did  not  fail,  in  the  furtherance  of 
his  own  views,  to  take  advantage  of  the  circum- 
stance. He  persuaded  Dee  to  go  with  his  new 
friend  to  Poland,  in  the  hope  of  benefiting 
further  in    his    studies    in    the    occult    by    wider 


experience  of  foreign  centres  of  learning.  They 
journeyed  to  Laskoe  near  Cracow,  where  the 
weakness  of  the  English  scholar  became  more 
evident  and  his  form  of  madness  more  de- 
veloped. Dee  had  now  a  fixed  belief  in  two 
ideas  which  he  had  hitherto  failed  to  material- 
ise— the  Philosopher's  Stone  and  the  Elixir  of  Life, 
both  of  them  dreams  held  as  possible  of  realisation 
to  the  scientific  dreamer  in  the  period  of  the  Renais- 
sance. Dee  believed  at  one  time  that  he  had  got 
hold  of  the  Philosopher's  Stone,  and  actually  sent 
to  Queen  Elizabeth  a  piece  of  gold  taken  from  a 
transmuted  warming-pan.  As  it  is  said  in  the  life 
of  Dee  that  he  and  Kelley  had  found  a  quantity 
of  the  Elixir  of  Life  in  the  ruins  of  Glastonbury 
Abbey,  we  can  easily  imagine  what  part  the  latter 
had  in  the  transaction.  It  was  he,  too,  who  prob- 
ably fixed  on  Glastonbury  as  the  place  in  which  to 
search  for  Elixirs,  as  that  holy  spot  had  already 
a  reputation  of  its  own  in  such  matters.  It  has 
been  held  for  ages  that  the  staff  used  by  Joseph 
of  Arimathea  took  root  and  blossomed  there. 
Somehow,  whatever  the  Glastonbury  Elixir  did,  the 
Philosopher's  Stone  did  not  seem  to  keep  its  alleged 
properties  in  the  Dee  family.  John  Dee's  young 
son  Arthur,  aged  eight,  tried  its  efficacy;  but  with- 
out success.  Perhaps  it  was  this  failure  which  made 
Kelley  more  exacting,  for  a  couple  of  years  later 
in  1589,  he  told  his  partner  that  angels  had  told 
him  it  was  the  divine  wish  that  they  should  have 


their  wives  in  common.  The  sage,  who  was  fond 
of  his  wife — who  was  a  comely  woman,  whereas 
Kelley's  was  ill  favoured  and  devoid  of  charms — 
naturally  demurred  at  such  an  utterance  even  of 
occult  spirits.  Mrs.  Dee  also  objected,  with  the 
result  that  there  were  alarums  and  excursions  and 
the  partnership  was  rudely  dissolved — which  is  a 
proof  that  though  the  aged  philosopher's  mind  had 
been  vitiated  by  the  evil  promptings  of  his  wily 
companion  he  had  not  quite  declined  to  idiocy. 


IN  Paris  a  woman  named  Des  Hayes  Voisin, 
a  widow  who  had  taken  up  the  business  of  a 
midwife,  towards  the  end  of  the  seventeenth 
century  made  herself  notorious  by  the  telling  of 
fortunes.  Such  at  least  was  the  manifest  occu- 
pation of  the  worthy  lady,  and  as  she  did  not  flaunt 
herself  unduly,  her  existence  was  rather  a  retired 
one.  Few  who  did  not  seek  her  services  knew  of 
her  existence,  fewer  still  of  her  residence.  The 
life  of  a  professor  of  such  mysteries  as  the  doings 
of  Fate — so-called — is  prolonged  and  sweetened  by 
seclusion.  But  there  is  always  an  "underground" 
way  of  obtaining  information  for  such  as  really 
desire  it;  and  Madame  Voisin,  for  all  her  evasive 
retirement,  was  always  to  be  found  when  wanted — 
which  means  when  she  herself  wanted  to  be  found. 
She  was  certainly  a  marvellous  prophet,  within  a 
certain  range  of  that  occult  art.  Like  all  clever 
people  she  fixed  limitations  for  herself;  which  was 
wise  of  her,  for  to  prophesy  on  behalf  of  every  one 
who  may  yearn  for  a  raising  of  the  curtain,  be  it 
of  never  so  small  a  corner,  on  all  possible  subjects, 
is  to  usurp  the  general  functions  of  the  Almighty. 
Wisely  therefore,  Madame  Voisin  became  a  special- 



ist.  Her  subject  was  husbands;  her  chief  theme 
their  longevity.  Naturally  such  women  as  were 
unsatisfied  with  the  personality,  circumstances,  or 
fortunes  of  their  partners,  joined  the  mass  of  her 
clientele,  a  mass  which  taking  it  "bye  and  large" 
maintained  a  strange  exactness  of  dimensions. 
This  did  not  much  trouble  the  public,  or  even  the 
body  of  her  clients,  for  no  one  except  Madame 
herself  knew  their  numbers.  It  was  certainly  a 
strange  thing  how  accurately  Madame  guessed,  for 
she  had  seemingly  no  data  to  go  on — the  longevity 
of  the  husbands  were  never  taken  into  the  confidence 
of  the  prophet.  She  took  care  to  keep  almost  to 
herself  the  rare  good  fortune,  in  a  sense,  which  at- 
tended her  divination ;  for  ever  since  the  misfortune 
which  had  attended  the  late  Marquise  de  Brinvil- 
liers  became  public,  the  powers  of  the  law  had  taken 
a  quite  unnecessary  interest  in  the  proceedings  of 
all  of  her  cult.  Longevity  is  quite  a  one-sided  ar- 
rangement of  nature ;  we  can  only  be  sure  of  its  ac- 
curacy when  it  is  too  late  to  help  in  its  accomplish- 
ment. In  such  a  game  there  is  only  one  throw  of 
the  dice,  so  that  it  behoves  anyone  who  would  wager 
successfully  to  be  very  sure  that  the  chances  are  in 
his — or  her — favour. 

Madame  Voisin's  clients  were  generally  in  a 
hurry,  and  so  were  willing  to  take  any  little  trouble 
or  responsibility  necessary  to  ensure  success.  They 
had  two  qualities  which  endear  customers  to  those 
of  La  Voisin's  trade;  they  were  grateful  and  they 


were  silent.  That  they  were  of  cheery  and  hopeful 
spirit  was  shown  by  the  fact  that  as  a  rule  they 
married  again  soon  after  the  dark  cloud  of  bereave- 
ment had  fallen  on  them.  When  the  funeral  baked 
meats  have  coldly  furnished  forth  the  marriage 
tables,  it  is  better  to  remain  as  inconspicuous  as  pos- 
sible; friends  and  onlookers  will  take  notice,  and, 
when  they  notice,  they  will  talk.  Moreover  the 
new  partner  is  often  suspicious  and  apt  to  be 
a  little  jealous  of  his  predecessor  in  title.  Thus, 
Madame  Voisin  being  clever  and  discreet,  and 
her  clients  being — or  at  any  rate  appearing  to 
be — happy  in  their  new  relations  and  silent  to 
the  world  at  large,  all  went  prosperously  with 
the  kindly-hearted  prophet.  No  trouble  rose  as 
to  testamentary  dispositions.  Men  who  are  the 
subjects  of  prophecy  have  usually  excellently- 
drawn  wills.  This  is  especially  the  case  with 
husbands  who  are  no  longer  young.  Young 
husbands  are  as  a  rule  not  made  the  subjects 
of  prophecy. 

Madame  Voisin's  great  accuracy  of  prediction 
did  not  excite  at  the  time  so  much  public  admiration 
as  it  might  have  done  if  she  or  her  clients  had  taken 
the  public  more  into  their  confidence;  but  it  was 
noted  afterwards  that  in  most  cases  the  male  indi- 
vidual who  retired  early  from  the  scene  was  the 
senior  partner  in  that  congeries  of  three  which  has 
come  to  be  known  as  "the  eternal  triangle."  In 
later  conversations,  following  in  the  wake  of  the 


completed  prophecy,  confidences  were  exchanged 
as  to  the  studies  in  certain  matters  of  science  in 
which  Madame  Voisin  seemed  to  have  attained  a 
rare  proficiency. 

The  late  Mr.  Charles  Peace,  an  adventurous  if 
acquisitive  spirit,  who  gave  up  his  life  in  the  same 
manner  as  the  deceased  Mr.  Haman,  worked  alone 
during  the  long  period  of  his  professional  existence, 
and  with  misleading  safety.  The  illustrious  French 
lady-prophet  unwisely  did  not  value  this  form  of 
security,  and  so  multiplied  opportunities  of  failure. 
She  followed  an  entirely  opposite  policy,  one  which 
though  it  doubtless  stood  by  her  on  many  occasions 
had  a  fatal  weakness.  In  some^ways  it  may  facili- 
tate matters  if  one  is  one's  own  Providence ;  such  a 
course  avoids  temporarily  errors  of  miscalculation 
or  deduction  of  probable  results.  And  just  as  the 
roulette  table  has  certain  chances  in  favour  of  Zero, 
there  is  for  the  practical  prophet  a  large  hazard 
in  that  the  dead  are  unable  to  speak  or  to  renew 
effort  on  a  more  favourable  basis.  La  Voisin,  prob- 
ably through  some  unfavourable  or  threatening  ex- 
periences, saw  the  wisdom  of  associating  the  forces 
of  prediction  and  accomplishment,  and  with  the 
readiness  of  an  active  personality  effected  the  junc- 
tion. For  this  she  was  already  fairly  well  equipped 
with  experiences.  Both  as  a  wife  and  a  lover  of 
warm  and  voluptuous  nature  she  understood  some- 
thing of  the  passions  of  humanity,  on  both  the 
female  and  the  male  side;  and  being  a  woman  she 


knew  perhaps  better  of  the  two  the  potency  of  fem- 
inine longing.  This  did  not  act  so  strongly  in  the 
lesser  and  more  directly  commercial,  if  less  uncer- 
tain, phases  of  her  art,  such  as  finding  lost  prop- 
erty, divining  the  result  of  hazards,  effecting 
immunity  from  danger,  or  the  preserving  indefi- 
nitely the  more  pleasing  qualities  of  youth.  But 
in  sterner  matters,  when  the  issue  was  of  life  or 
death,  the  masculine  tendency  towards  recklessness 
kicked  the  beam.  As  a  nurse  in  active  touch  with 
both  medical  and  surgical  wants,  aims,  and  achieve- 
ments, she  was  at  ease  in  the  larger  risks  of  daily 
life.  And  after  all,  her  own  ambitions,  aided  by 
the  compelling  of  her  own  natural  demands  for 
physical  luxury,  were  quite  independent,  only  seek- 
ing through  exiguous  means  a  way  of  achievement. 
In  secret  she  studied  the  mystery  of  a  toxicologist ; 
and,  probably  by  cautious  experiment,  satisfied  her- 
self of  her  proficiency  in  that  little-known  science. 
That  she  had  other  aims,  more  or  less  dependent 
on  this  or  the  feelings  which  its  knowledge  super- 
induced, can  be  satisfactorily  guessed  from  some 
of  her  attendant  labours  which  declared  themselves 

After  a  time  La  Voisin's  vogue  as  a  sorceress 
brought  her  into  certain  high  society  where  free- 
dom of  action  was  unhampered  by  moral  restraints. 
The  very  rich,  the  leaders  of  society  and  fashion 
of  the  time,  the  unscrupulous  whose  ambitious 
efforts  had  been  crowned  with  success  of  a  kind, 


leaders  of  Court  life,  those  in  high  military  com- 
mand, mistresses  of  royalty  and  high  aristocracy — 
all  became  companions  and  clients  in  one  or  more 
of  her  mysterious  arts.  Amongst  them  were  the 
Duchesse  de  Bouillon,  the  Comtesse  de  Soissons, 
Madame  de  Montespan,  Olympe  de  Mancini,  Mar- 
shal de  Luxembourg,  the  Due  de  Vendome,  Prince 
de  Clermont-Lodeve.  It  was  not  altogether  fash- 
ionable not  to  be  in  touch  with  Madame  Voisin. 
Undeterred  by  the  lessons  of  history,  La  Voisin 
went  on  her  way,  forced  as  is  usual  in  such  cases 
by  the  circumstances  which  grow  around  the  crim- 
inal and  prove  infinitely  the  stronger.  She  was  at 
the  height  of  her  success  when  the  public  suspicion, 
followed  by  action,  revealed  the  terrible  crimes  of 
the  Marquise  de  Brinvilliers;  and  she  was  caught 
in  the  tail  of  the  tempest  thus  created. 

This  case  of  Madame  de  Brinvilliers  is  a  typical 
one  of  how  a  human  being,  goaded  by  passion  and 
lured  by  opportunity,  may  fall  swiftly  from  any 
estate.  It  is  so  closely  in  touch  with  that  of 
Madame  Voisin  that  the  two  have  almost  to  be  con- 
sidered together.  They  began  with  the  desire  for 
dabbling  in  forbidden  mysteries.  Three  men — 
two  Italians  and  one  German,  all  men  of  some  abil- 
ity— were  violent  searchers  for  the  mythical  "phi- 
losopher's stone"  which  was  to  fulfil  the  dream  of 
the  mediaeval  alchemist  by  turning  at  will  all  things 
into  gold.  In  the  search  they  all  gravitated  to 
Paris.     There  the  usual  thing  happened.     Money 


ran  short  and  foolish  hoping  had  to  be  supple- 
mented by  crime.  In  the  whirling  world  of  the 
time  there  was  always  a  ready  sale  for  means  to 
an  end,  however  nefarious  either  might  be.  The 
easy  morality  of  the  time  allowed  opportunity  for 
all  means,  with  the  result  that  there  was  an  almost 
open  dealing  in  poisons.  The  soubriquet  which  stole 
into  existence — it  dared  not  proclaim  itself — is  a 
self-explanatory  historical  lesson.  The  poudre  de 
succession  marks  an  epoch  which,  for  sheer,  regard- 
less, remorseless,  profligate  wickedness  is  almost 
without  peer  in  history,  and  this  is  said  without 
forgetting  the  time  of  the  Borgias.  Not  even  nat- 
ural affection  or  family  life  or  individual  relation- 
ship or  friendliness  was  afforded  any  consideration. 
This  phase  of  crime,  which  was  one  almost  con- 
fined to  the  upper  and  wealthier  classes,  depended 
on  wealth  and  laws  of  heredity  and  entail.  Those 
who  benefited  by  it  salved  what  remnants  of  con- 
science still  remained  to  them  with  the  thought 
that  they  were  but  helping  the  natural  process  of 
waste  and  recuperation.  The  old  and  feeble  were 
removed,  with  as  little  coil  as  might  be  necessary, 
in  order  that  the  young  and  lusty  might  benefit. 
As  the  change  was  a  form  of  plunder,  which  had 
to  be  paid  for  in  a  degree  in  some  way  approximate 
to  results,  prices  ran  high.  Poisoning  on  a  success- 
ful scale  requires  skilful  and  daring  agents,  whose 
after  secrecy  as  well  as  whose  present  aid  has  to 
be  secured.     Exili  and  Glasser — one  of  the  Italians 


and  the  German — did  a  thriving  trade.  As  usual 
in  such  illicit  traffic,  the  possibility  of  purchase  un- 
der effective  conditions  made  a  market.  There  is 
every  reason  to  believe  from  after  results  that  La 
Voisin  was  one  such  agent.  The  cause  of  La  Brin- 
villiers  entering  the  market  was  the  purely  personal 
one  of  an  affair  of  sensual  passion.  Death  is  an  in- 
formative circumstance.  Suspicion  began  to  leak 
out  that  the  polyglot  firm  of  needy  foreigners  had 
dark  dealings.  Two  of  them — the  Italians — were 
arrested  and  sent  to  the  Bastille  where  one  of  them 
died.  By  unhappy  chance  the  other  was  given  as 
cell-companion  Captain  Sainte-Croix,  who  was  a 
lover  of  the  Marquise  de  Brinvilliers.  Sainte- 
Croix  as  a  Captain  in  the  regiment  of  the  Marquis 
had  become  intimate  in  his  house.  Brinvilliers  was 
a  fatuous  person  and  of  imperfect  moral  vision. 
The  Captain  was  handsome,  and  Madame  la  Mar- 
quise amorous.  Behold  then  all  the  usual  personnel 
of  a  tragedy  of  three.  After  a  while  the  intrigue 
became  a  matter  of  family  concern.  The  lady's 
father, — the  Civil  Lieutenant  d'Aulroy,  procured 
a  lettre  de  cachet,  and  had  the  erring  lover  immured 
in  the  Bastille  as  the  easiest  and  least  public  way 
out  of  the  difficulty.  "Evil  communications  cor- 
rupt good  manners,"  says  the  proverb.  The  pro- 
verbial philosopher  understated  the  danger  of  such 
juxtaposition.  Evil  manners  added  corruption 
even  to  their  kind.  In  the  Bastille  the  exasperated 
lover  listened  to  the  wiles  of  Exili;  and  another 


stage  of  misdoing  began.  The  Marquise  deter- 
mined on  revenge,  and  be  sure  that  in  such  a  case 
in  such  a  period  even  the  massive  walls  of  the 
Bastille  could  not  prevent  the  secret  whisper  of 
a  means  of  effecting  it.  D'Aulroy,  his  two  sons, 
and  another  sister  perished.  Brinvilliers  himself 
was  spared  through  some  bizarre  freak  of  his  wife's 
conscience.  Then  the  secret  began  to  be  whispered 
— first,  it  was  said,  through  the  confessional;  and 
the  Chambre  Ar&ente,  analogous  to  the  British  Star 
Chamber,  instituted  for  such  purposes,  took  the  case 
in  hand.  The  result  might  have  been  doubtful,  for 
great  social  forces  were  at  work  to  hush  up  such 
a  scandal,  but  that,  with  a  truly  seventeenth  century 
candour,  the  prisoner  had  written  an  elaborate  con- 
fession of  her  guilt,  which  if  it  did  not  directly 
assure  condemnation  at  least  put  justice  on  the  right 

The  trial  was  a  celebrated  one,  and  involved  inci- 
dentally many  illustrious  persons  as  well  as  others 
of  lesser  note.  In  the  end,  in  1676,  Madame  la 
Marquise  de  Brinvilliers  was  burned — that  is,  what 
was  left  of  her  was  burned  after  her  head  had  been 
cut  off,  a  matter  of  grace  in  consideration  of  her 
rank.  It  is  soothing  to  the  feelings  of  many  rela- 
tives and  friends — not  to  mention  those  of  the  prin- 
cipal— in  such  a  case  when  "great  command  o'er- 
sways  the  order"  of  purgation  by  fire. 

Before  the  eddy  of  the  Brinvilliers'  criminal 
scandal  reached  to  the  lower  level  of  Madame 


Voisin,  a  good  many  scandals  were  aired;  though 
again  "great  command"  seems  to  have  been  opera- 
tive, so  far  as  human  power  availed,  in  minimising 
both  scandals  and  punishments.  Amongst  those 
cited  to  the  Ghambre  Ardente  were  two  nieces  of 
Cardinal  Mazarin,  the  Duchesse  de  Bouillon,  the 
Comtesse  de  Soissons,  and  Marshal  de  Luxem- 
bourg. In  some  of  these  cases  that  which  in  the- 
atrical parlance  is  called  "comic  relief"  was  not 
wanting.  It  was  a  witty  if  impertinent  answer  of 
the  Duchesse  de  Bouillon  to  one  of  her  judges, 
La  Reyne,  an  ill-favoured  man,  who  asked,  apropos 
of  a  statement  made  at  the  trial  that  she  had  taken 
part  in  an  alleged  invocation  of  Beelzebub,  "and 
did  you  ever  see  the  Devil?" — 

"Yes,  I  am  looking  at  him  now.  He  is  ugly, 
and  is  disguised  as  a  Councillor  of  State!" 

The  King,  Louis  XIV,  took  much  interest  in 
the  trial  and  even  tried  now  and  again  to  smooth 
matters.  He  even  went  so  far  as  to  advise  the 
Comtesse  de  Soissons  who  was  treated  by  the  Court 
rather  as  a  foolish  than  a  guilty  woman,  to  keep 
out  of  the  way  if  she  were  really  guilty.  In  an- 
swer she  said  with  the  haughtiness  of  her  time  that 
though  she  was  innocent  she  did  not  care  to  appear 
in  a  Law  Court.  She  withdrew  to  Brussels  where 
she  died  some  twenty  years  later.  Marshal  de 
Luxembourg — Francois  Henri  de  Montmorenci- 
Boutteville,  duke,  peer,  Marshal  of  France  to  give 
his  full  titles — was  shown  to  have  engaged  in  an 


attempt  to  recover  lost  property  by  occult  means. 
On  which  basis  and  for  having  once  asked  Madame 
Voisin  to  produce  his  Satanic  Majesty,  he  was 
alleged  to  have  sold  himself  to  the  Devil.  But  his 
occult  adventures  did  not  stand  in  the  way  of  his 
promotion  as  a  soldier  though  he  had  to  stand  a 
trial  of  over  a  year  long;  he  was  made  Captain 
of  the  Guard  and  finally  given  command  of  the 

La  Voisin  with  her  accomplices — a  woman  named 
Vigoureux  and  Le  Sage,  a  priest — were  with  a 
couple  of  score  of  others  arrested  in  1679,  and  were, 
after  a  spell  of  imprisonment  in  the  Bastille,  tried. 
As  a  result  Voisin,  Vigoureux  and  her  brother,  and 
Le  Sage  were  burned  early  in  1680.  In  Voisin's 
case  the  mercy  of  previous  decapitation,  which  had 
been  accorded  to  her  guilty  sister  Brinvilliers,  was 
not  extended  to  her.  Perhaps  this  was  partly  be- 
cause of  the  attitude  which  she  had  taken  up  with 
regard  to  religious  matters.  Amongst  other  unfor- 
givable acts  she  had  repelled  the  Crucifix — a  ter- 
rible thing  to  do  according  to  the  ideas  of  that 
superstitious  age. 


CARLYLE  in  his  French  Revolution  makes 
a  contrast  between  two  works  of  imagina- 
tion which  mark  the  extremes  of  the  forces 
that  made  for  the  disruption  of  France,  Paul  et 
Virginie  and  Le  Chevalier  de  Faublas.  The  for- 
mer he  calls  "the  swan-song  of  old  dying  France"; 
of  the  latter  he  says  "if  this  wretched  Faublas  is 
a  death-speech,  it  is  one  under  the  gallows,  and  by 
a  felon  that  does  not  repent."  This  double  anal- 
ogy may  well  serve  for  a  comparison  of  Dr.  Dee 
and  the  man  who  was  at  once  his  partner  for  a 
time,  and  his  evil  genius.  The  grave  earnest  old 
scholar,  with  instincts  for  good,  high  endeavour, 
and  a  vast  intellectual  strength,  contrasts  well  with 
the  mean-souled  shifty  specious  rogue  who  fas- 
tened himself  on  him  and  leech-like  drained  him 
"dry  as  hay." 

Such  historians  as  mention  the  existence  of  the 
latter  are  even  a  little  doubtful  how  to  spell  his 
name.  This,  however,  does  not  matter  much — nay, 
at  all,  for  it  is  probably  not  that  to  which  he  was 
born.  Briefly  the  following  is  his  record  as  far  as 
can  be  discovered.  He  was  born  in  1555  to  parents 
living  in  Worcester,  who  having  tried  to  bring  him 



up  as  an  apothecary,  sent  him  to  Oxford  when  he 
was  seventeen  years  of  age.  There  he  was  entered 
at  Gloucester  Hall,  under  the  name  of  Talbot.  As 
however  three  men  of  that  name  were  in  the  Hall 
at  the  same  time,  it  is  doubtful  what  family  can 
claim  the  honour  of  his  kinship.  His  college  life 
was  short — only  lasting  a  year — and  inconspicuous. 
"He  left,"  we  are  told,  "abruptly."  Then,  as  if  to 
complete  the  purely  educational  phase  of  his  exist- 
ence, he  was  for  a  while  an  attorney,  eking  out  the 
tenuity  of  his  legal  practice  by  aid  of  forgery. 
Thus  full-fledged  for  his  work  in  life,  he  made  his 
first  properly-recorded  appearance  in  the  pillory  in 
1580,  for  an  offence  which  is  variously  spoken  of 
as  forgery  and  coining.  At  any  rate  his  ears  were 
cropped  off,  a  loss  which  necessitated  for  pruden- 
tial reasons  his  wearing  a  skullcap  for  the  remainder 
of  his  days.  This  he  wore  with  such  conspicuous 
success  that  it  is  said  that  even  Doctor  Dee,  who 
was  his  partner  for  nearly  seven  years,  did  not 
know  of  his  mutilation.  Kelley's  next  recorded 
offence  was  one  which  in  a  later  age  when  subjects 
for  dissection  (necessary  for  purposes  of  education 
in  anatomy)  were  difficult  to  obtain,  was  popularly 
known  as  "body-snatching."  The  commission  of 
this  offence  though  a  serious  breach  of  the  law,  came 
to  be  regarded  as  a  necessary  condition  of  study; 
and  even  if  punishment  was  meted  out,  it  was  not 
looked  upon  as  dishonour.  But  in  Kelley's  case 
the  offence  was  committed  not  for  the  purpose  of 


scientific  education  but  for  one  of  sorcery.  It  took 
place  in  Walton-le-dale  in  Lancashire,  where  Kel- 
ley  dug  up  a  body  buried  on  the  previous  day,  for 
purposes  of  necromancy,  which,  it  will  be  remem- 
bered, was,  as  the  etymology  of  the  word  implies, 
divination  by  means  of  the  dead. 

From  this  time  on,  he  seemed  to  see  his  way  clear 
to  the  final  choice  of  a  profession.  He  had  tasted 
crime  and  punishment,  and  considered  himself  well 
qualified  to  accept  the  risks  as  well  as  the  benefits ; 
and  so  chose  fraud  as  his  life  work.  He  was  still 
under  twenty-five  years  of  age  when  he  began  to 
look  about  him  for  his  next  means  or  occasion  of 
turning  his  special  talents  to  profit.  After  some 
deliberation  he  fixed  on  the  existence  and  qualities 
of  the  famous  (as  he  had  then  become)  Doctor 
Dee,  and  carefully  commenced  operations.  He 
called  on  the  mathematician  at  his  house  at  Mort- 
lake  and  made  his  acquaintance.  Dee  was  naturally 
impressed  by  the  conversation  and  ostensible  qual- 
ities of  the  young  man,  who  had  the  plausibility 
of  the  born  rogue  and  laid  himself  out  to  captivate 
the  old  man,  more  than  double  his  companion's  age 
and  worn  by  arduous  study.  He  fostered  all 
Dee's  natural  weaknesses,  humoured  his  fads,  was 
enthusiastic  regarding  his  beliefs  which  he  appeared 
to  share,  and  urged  on  his  personal  ambitions.  The 
belief  in  occultism  which  the  philosopher  cherished 
in  secret,  though  he  had  openly  and  formally  re- 
pudiated it  a  dozen  years  before  in  his  preface  to 


Sir  Henry  Billingsley's  translation  of  Euclid,  gave 
the  parasitic  rogue  his  cue  for  further  ingratiating 
himself,  and  before  long  he  entered  Dee's  service 
at  an  annual  salary  of  fifty  pounds.  His  special 
function  was  that  of  "skryer,"  which  was  his  own  or 
Dee's  reading  of  "seer."  His  contribution  to  the 
general  result  was  to  see  the  figures  which  did — 
or  did  not — appear  in  the  so-called  "magic"  crystal, 
an  office  for  which  his  useful  imagination,  his  un- 
blushing assurance,  and  his  utter  unscrupulousness 
eminently  fitted  him.  In  fact  he  was  in  his  designs 
of  fraud  a  perfect  complement  of  the  simple- 
minded  scientist.  Of  course  as  days  went  on  and 
opportunities  offered  themselves,  through  Dee's 
growing  madness  and  Kelley's  social  enlargements, 
the  horizon  of  chicanery  widened.  This  was  largely 
assisted  by  the  opportune  arrival  in  England  of 
the  Palatine  Albert  Laski  in  1583.  Laski  was  just 
the  man  that  Kelley  was  waiting  for.  A  rich  man 
with  a  taste  for  occult  science;  sufficiently  learned 
to  keep  in  touch  with  the  theories  of  occultism  of 
that  time;  sufficiently  vain  to  be  used  by  an  unscrup- 
ulous adventurer  who  tickled  his  intellectual  palate 
whilst  he  matured  his  frauds  upon  him. 

Kelley  having  worked  on  Dee's  feelings  suffi- 
ciently to  secure  his  acquiescence,  procured  that 
Laski  should  be  allowed  to  aid  in  such  operations 
and  experiments  as  appealed  to  him.  The  result 
was  that  the  Palatine  took  the  two  men  with  him, 
promising  a  free  field  for  them  both,  each  accord- 


ing  to  his  bent.  At  Prague,  in  1583,  Laski  pre- 
sented Dee  and  his  companion  to  the  Emperor 
Rudolph  II.  Encouraged  by  the  royal  approval, 
Dee  looked  for  a  longer  sojourn  in  eastern  Europe, 
and  brought  thither  his  wife  and  children  from 
Poland,  where  he  had  left  them  at  Laskoe,  the 
seat  of  the  Palatine.  Later  on,  in  1585, — again 
through  the  influence  of  the  credulous  Laski — Dee 
with  his  companion  was  presented  to  Stephen,  King 
of  Poland.  Stephen  was  much  interested,  and 
attended  a  seance  that  he  might  see  the  spirits  of 
which  he  had  heard  so  much.  He  saw  too  much, 
however,  as  far  as  Kelley  was  concerned,  for  he 
penetrated  the  imposture.  Thereupon  Kelley,  un- 
equal to  carrying  on  the  business  single-handed,  for 
he  dared  not  let  Dee's  eyes  be  opened  and  he  knew 
he  could  not  induce  him  to  be  other  than  a  blind 
partner,  contrived  that  a  new  confederate  should 
be  added  to  the  firm.  This  was  one  Francis  Pucci, 
a  Florentine,  possessed  of  all  the  address  and  sub- 
tlety of  his  race.  But  after  the  experience  of  a 
year  he  was  removed  on  suspicion  of  bad  faith. 
Before  that  year  was  out,  the  Bishop  of  Piacenza, 
Apostolic  Nuncio  at  the  Emperor's  Court,  had  a 
decree  issued  that  the  two  Englishmen  should  quit 
Prague  within  six  days.  From  Prague  they  went 
to  Erfurt,  in  Thuringia;  but  despite  letters  of  rec- 
ommendation from  high  quarters  the  Municipal 
Authorities  would  not  allow  them  to  remain.  So 
they  moved  on  to  Hesse-Cassel  and  thence  to  Tri- 


bau  in  Bohemia,  where  the  fraud  of  making  spirits 
appear  was  renewed.  In  1586,  it  was  intimated  to 
Dee  that  the  Emperor  of  Russia  wished  to  receive 
him  in  that  country.  He  would  receive  a  fee  of 
two  thousand  pounds  per  annum  and  would  be 
treated  with  honour;  but  the  scholar  did  not  see 
his  way  to  accept  the  flattering  offer.  At 
Tribau,  Kelley  experimented,  but  unsuccessfully, 
with  some  powder  found  at  Glastonbury,  Dee's 
young  son  being  the  medium.  It  was  noticeable 
that  whenever  Dee  or  his  family  failed  in  these 
experiments,  Kelley  always  succeeded.  At  this 
stage  Kelley,  who  was  a  man  of  evil  life,  fell  madly 
in  love  with  Dee's  wife.  He  was  married  himself, 
but  that  did  not  seem  to  matter.  His  own  wife  was 
ugly  and  unattractive,  whereas  the  second  Mrs.  Dee 
was  well-favoured  and  winning.  In  the  madness 
of  his  lust  he  tried  to  work  on  the  husband's  credu- 
lity by  telling  him  that  it  had  been  conveyed  to 
him  through  angels  that  it  was  the  Divine  wish 
that  the  two  men  should  hold  their  wives  in  com- 
mon. Dee  was  naturally  sceptical  and  annoyed, 
and  his  wife  was  furious.  Kelley,  however,  was 
persistent,  and  stuck  to  his  point  so  stedfastly  that 
after  a  while  the  woman's  resolution  began  to  give 
way,  and  for  a  time  some  sort  of  working  arrange- 
ment came  about.  Kelley's  story,  as  elaborated  to 
his  partner,  was  that  at  Tribau,  in  1587,  the  crystal 
showed  him  a  vision  of  a  naked  woman  who  con- 
veyed to  him  the  divine  message.     To  Dee's  un- 


hinged  mind  this  seemed  all  natural  and  correct — 
probably  even  to  the  suitable  costume  adopted  by 
the  angelic  messenger:  so  the  worthy  doctor  gave 
way.  After  a  time  however  the  matron  recovered 
her  sanity,  and  the  vulture  and  the  pigeon  parted. 
Dee  gave  up  to  his  late  partner  all  the  "tools  of 
trade"  and  "properties"  of  the  fraud,  and  the  two 
never  met  again. 

Kelley  went  to  Prague  where  he  was  thrown  into 
prison  in  1589.  He  remained  in  durance  for  four 
years  after  which  he  was  released.  From  thence 
on  till  1595,  he  became  a  vagabond  as  well  as  a 
rogue,  and  wandered  about  Germany.  He  again 
fell  into  the  hands  of  Rudolph,  to  be  again  impris- 
oned by  him.  He  was  killed  whilst  making  a  des- 
perate effort  to  escape. 

There  seems  to  be  no  record  of  Edward  Kelley — 
or  Talbot — having  been  knighted,  no  authority 
save  his  own  wish  for  the  use  of  the  title.  It  may 
of  course  be  possible  that  he  was  knighted  by  the 
Emperor  in  some  moment  of  absurd  credulity ;  but 
there  is  no  record  of  it.     He  had  no  children. 


OWING  to  a  want  of  accord  among  his- 
torians, the  searcher  after  historic  truth  in 
our  own  day  can  hardly  be  quite  sure 
of  the  identity  of  the  worthy  lady  who  passed  under 
the  above  enchanting  title.  To  later  generations 
the  district  of  Camden  Town — formerly  a  suburb 
of  London  but  now  a  fairly  central  part  of  it — 
is  best  known  through  a  public  house,  the  Mother 
Red-Cap.  But  before  controversy  can  cease  we 
are  called  on  to  decide  if  Mother  Red-Cap  and 
Mother  Damnable  were  one  and  the  same  person. 
A  hundred  years  ago  a  writer  who  had  made  such 
subjects  his  own,  came  to  the  conclusion  that  the 
soubriquet  Mother  Damnable  was  synonymous  with 
Mother  Black-Cap  whom  he  spoke  of  as  of  local 
fame.  But  in  the  century  that  has  elapsed  his- 
torical research  has  been  more  scientifically  organ- 
ised and  the  field  from  which  conclusions  can  be 
drawn  has  been  enlarged  as  well  as  explored.  The 
fact  is  that  a  century  ago  the  northern  suburb  had 
two  well-known  public  houses,  Mother  Red-Cap 
and  Mother  Black-Cap.  It  is  possible  that  both 
the  worthy  vintners  who  offered  "entertainment  for 
man  and  beast"  meant  one  and  the  same  person, 



though  who  that  person  was  remains  to  be  seen. 
The  distinctive  colour  line  of  the  two  hostelries  was 
also  possibly  due  to  considerations  of  business 
rather  than  of  art.  Red-cap  and  Black-cap  are,  as 
names,  drawn  from  these  varying  sign-boards;  the 
term  Mother  held  in  common  is  simply  a  title  given 
without  any  pretence  of  doing  honour  to  the  alleged 
practices  of  the  person  whom  it  is  intended  to  des- 

There  were  in  fact  two  notorious  witches,  either 
of  whom  might  have  been  in  the  mind  of  either 
artistic  designer.  One  was  of  Yorkshire  fame  in 
the  time  of  Henry  VII.  The  other  was  of  very 
much  later  date  and  of  purely  local  notoriety.  The 
two  publicans  who  exploited  these  identities  under 
pictorial  garb  were  open  and  avowed  trade  rivals. 
The  earlier  established  of  the  two  had  evidently 
commissioned  a  painter  to  create  a  striking  sign- 
board on  a  given  subject,  and  the  artist  had  ful- 
filled his  task  by  an  alleged  portrait  of  sufficiently 
fearsome  import  to  fix  the  attention  of  the 
passer-by,  at  the  same  time  conveying  to  him  some 
hint  of  the  calling  of  the  archetype  on  which  her 
fame  was  based.  Prosperity  in  the  venture  begot 
rivalry ;  and  the  owner  of  the  new  house  of  refresh- 
ment, wishing  to  outshine  his  rival  in  trade  whilst  at 
the  same  time  availing  himself  of  the  publicity  and 
local  fame  already  achieved,  commissioned  another 
artist  to  commit  another  pictorial  atrocity  under 
the  name  of  art.     So  far  as  the  purpose  of  publicity 


went,  the  ideas  were  similar;  the  only  differences 
being  in  the  colour  scheme  and  the  measure  of 
attractiveness  of  the  alleged  prototype.  From  the 
indications  thus  given  one  may  form  some  opinion 
— based  solely  on  probability — as  to  which  was  the 
earlier  and  which  the  later  artistic  creation,  for  it 
is  by  this  means — and  this  means  only — that  we 
may  after  the  lapse  of  at  least  a  century  bring  tra- 
dition to  our  aid,  and  guess  at  the  original  of 
Mother  Damnable. 

Of  the  two  signs  it  seems  probable  that  the  black 
one  is  the  older.  After  all,  the  main  purpose  of  a 
sign-board  is  to  catch  the  eye,  and  unless  Titian 
and  all  who  followed  him  are  wrong,  red  has  an 
attractive  value  beyond  all  other  hues.  The  dictum 
of  the  great  Italian  is  unassailable:  "Red  catches 
the  eye;  yellow  holds  it;  blue  gives  distance."  A 
f  ree-souled  artist  with  the  choice  of  the  whole  palette 
open  to  him  might  choose  black  since  historical 
accuracy  was  a  matter  to  be  valued ;  but  in  a  ques- 
tion of  competition  a  painter  would  wisely  choose 
red — especially  when  his  rival  had  confined  him- 
self to  black.  So  far  as  attractiveness  is  concerned, 
it  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  the  object  of  the 
painter  and  his  patron  was  to  bring  customers  to 
a  London  suburban  public  house  in  the  days  of 
George  III.  To-day  there  is  a  cult  of  horrors  in 
Paris  which  has  produced  some  choice  specimens 
of  decorative  art,  such  for  instance  as  the  cafe 
known  as  Le  Rat  Mort. 


Such  places  lure  their  customers  by  curiosity  and 
sheer  horror ;  but  the  persons  lured  are  from  a  class 
dominated  by  "Gallic  effervescence"  and  attracted 
by  anything  that  is  bizarre,  and  not  of  the  class 
of  the  stolid  beer-drinking  Briton.  But  even  the 
most  stolid  of  men  is  pleased  by  the  beauty  of  a 
woman;  so  the  sign-painter — who  knows  his  art 
well,  and  has  evolved  from  the  ranks  of  his  calling 
such  a  man  as  Franz  Hals — we  may  be  sure,  when 
he  wished  to  please,  took  for  his  model  some 
gracious  personality. 

Now  the  artist  of  the  lady  of  dark  headgear  let 
his  imagination  run  free  and  produced  a  face  typ- 
ical of  all  the  sins  of  the  Decalogue.  We  may 
therefore  take  it  on  the  ground  of  form  as  well 
as  that  of  colour  that  priority  of  date  is  to  be  given 
to  Mother  Black-Cap.  There  is  good  ground 
for  belief  that  this  deduction  is  correct.  Naturally 
the  owner  of  the  earliest  public-house  wished  to 
make  it  as  attractive  as  possible;  and  as  Camden 
Town  was  a  suburb  through  which  the  northern 
traffic  passed  on  its  way  to  and  from  London,  it 
was  wise  to  use  for  publicity  and  entertainment 
names  that  were  familiar  to  north  country  ears. 
Before  the  railways  were  organised  the  great 
wheeled  and  horse-traffic  between  London  and  the 
North — especially  Yorkshire  which  was  one  of  the 
first  Counties  to  take  up  manufacturing  and  had 
already  most  of  the  wool  trade — went  through 
Camden  Town.     So  it  was  wise  forethought  to  take 


as  an  inn  sign  a  Yorkshire  name.  The  name  of 
Mother  Shipton  had  been  in  men's  mouths  and  ears 
for  about  two  hundred  years,  and  as  the  times  had 
so  changed  that  the  old  stigma  of  witchcraft  was 
not  then  understood,  the  association  of  the  name 
with  Knaresborough  alone  remained.  And  so 
Mother  Shipton  of  Knaresborough  was  intended 
as  the  prototype  of  the  inn  portrait  with  black  head- 
gear at  Camden  Town.  In  the  ordinary  course  of 
development  and  business  one  of  the  two  inns  suc- 
ceeded and  lasted  better  than  the  other.  And  as 
Mother  Red-Cap  has  as  a  name  supplanted  Mother 
Damnable,  we  may  with  some  understanding  dis- 
cuss who  that  lady  was. 

She  was  a  well-known  shrew  of  Kentish  Town, 
daughter  of  one  Jacob  Bingham,  a  local  brick- 
maker,  who  had  married  the  daughter  of  a  Scotch 
pedlar  manifestly  not  of  any  high  moral  character 
as  shown  by  her  later  acts  and  the  general  mistrust 
which  attended  them.  They  had  one  daughter, 
Jinny,  who  in  wickedness  outdid  her  parents.  She 
was  naturally  warm-blooded  and  had  a  child  when 
she  was  sixteen  by  a  man  of  no  account,  George 
Coulter,  known  as  Gipsy  George.  Whatever  affec- 
tion may  have  existed  between  them  was  cut  short 
by  his  arrest — and  subsequent  execution  at  Tyburn 
— for  sheepstealing.  In  her  second  quasi-matri- 
monial venture  Jinny  lived  a  cat-and-dog  life  with 
a  man  called  Darby  who  spent  his  time  in  getting 
drunk  and  trying  to  get  over  it.     Number  Two's 


end  was  also  tragic.  After  a  violent  quarrel  with 
his  companion  he  disappeared.  Then  there  was 
domestic  calm  for  a  while,  possibly  due  to  the  fact 
that  Bingham  and  his  wife  were  being  tried  also 
on  a  charge  of  witchcraft,  complicated  with  another 
capital  charge  of  procuring  the  death  of  a  young 
woman.  They  were  both  hanged  and  thereafter 
Jinny  found  time  for  another  episode  of  love-mak- 
ing and  took  up  with  a  man  called  Pitcher.  He 
too  disappeared,  but  his  body,  burned  almost  to  a 
cinder,  was  discovered  in  a  neighbouring  oven. 
Jinny  was  tried  for  murder,  but  escaped  on  the 
plea  that  the  man  often  took  refuge  in  the  oven 
when  he  wished  to  get  beyond  reach  of  the  woman's 
venomous  tongue,  to  which  fact  witness  was  borne 
by  certain  staunch  companions  of  Miss  Bingham. 

Jinny's  third  venture  towards  happy  companion- 
ship, though  it  lasted  much  longer,  was  attended 
with  endless  bitter  quarrelling,  and  came  to  an 
equally  tragic  end,  had  at  the  beginning  a  spice  of 
romance.  This  individual,  whose  name  has  seem- 
ingly not  been  recorded,  being  pursued  in  Com- 
monwealth times  for  some  unknown  offence, 
had  sought  her  aid  in  attempting  to  escape. 
This  she  had  graciously  accorded,  with  the  con- 
sequence that  they  lived  together  some  years 
in  the  greatest  unhappiness. 

At  length  he  died — of  poison,  but  by  whom  ad- 
ministered did  not  transpire  at  the  inquest.  For 
the  rest  of  her  life  Miss  Bingham,  who  was  now 


old,  lived  under  the  suspicion  of  being  a  witch. 
Her  ostensible  occupation  was  as  a  teller  of  for- 
tunes and  a  healer  of  odd  diseases — occupations 
which  singly  or  together  make  neither  for  personal 
esteem  or  general  confidence.  Her  public  appear- 
ances were  usually  attended  by  hounding  and  bait- 
ing by  the  rabble;  and  whenever  anything  went 
wrong  in  her  neighbourhood  the  blame  was,  with 
overt  violence  of  demeanour,  attributed  to  her. 
She  did  not  even  receive  any  of  the  respect  usually 
shown  to  a  freeholder — which  she  was,  having  by 
her  father's  death  become  owner  of  a  house  which 
he  had  built  for  himself  with  his  own  hands  on 
waste  ground.  Her  only  protector  was  that  usual 
favourite  of  witches,  a  black  cat,  whose  devotion 
to  her  and  whose  savage  nature,  accompanied  by 
the  public  fear  shown  for  an  animal  which  was 
deemed  her  "familiar,"  caused  the  mob  to  flee  be- 
fore its  appearance. 

The  tragedy  and  mystery  of  her  life  were  even 
exceeded  by  those  of  her  death.  When,  having 
been  missed  for  some  time,  her  house  was  entered 
she,  attended  only  by  her  cat  and  with  her  crutch 
by  her  side,  was  found  crouching  beside  the  cold 
ashes  of  her  extinct  fire.  In  the  tea-pot  beside  her 
was  some  liquid,  seemingly  brewed  from  herbs. 
Willing  hands  administered  some  of  this  to  the 
black  cat,  whose  hair,  within  a  very  short  time,  fell 
off.  The  cat  forthwith  died.  Then  the  clamour 
began.     Very  many  people  suddenly  remembered 


having  seen,  after  her  last  appearance  in  public,  the 
Devil  entering  her  house.  No  one,  however,  had 
seen  him  come  out  again.  What  a  pity  it  was  that 
no  veracious  scribe  or  draughtsman  was  present  in 
the  crowd  which  had  noticed  the  Devil's  entry  to 
the  house.  In  such  case  we  might  have  got  a  real 
likeness  of  His  Satanic  Majesty — a  thing  which 
has  long  been  wanted — and  the  opportunities  of 
obtaining  which  are  few. 

One  peculiar  fact  is  recorded  of  Madame  Dam- 
nable's  burial;  her  body  was  so  stiff  from  the  rigor 
mortis — or  from  some  other  cause — that  the  under- 
takers had  to  break  her  limbs  before  they  could 
put  her  body  in  the  coffin. 


THERE  is  one  thing  more  evil  than  oppres- 
sion in  the  shape  of  wrong-doing,  and  that 
is  oppression  in  the  guise  of  good.  Tenny- 
son, in  one  of  his  poems,  speaks  of  the  dishonest 
pharmacist  who  "pestles  a  poison'd  poison."  This 
is  a  refinement  of  iniquity ;  a  poisoned  poison  is  not 
even  an  enlargement  of  evil  but  a  structural 
change  eliminating  the  intention  of  good  and  re- 
placing it  with  evil  intent.  Witches  were  quite 
bad  enough;  or  rather  they  would  have  been, 
had  that  which  was  alleged  of  them  been  true. 
But  a  man  who  got  his  living  by  creating  sus- 
picion regarding  them  and  following  it  out  to 
the  practical  consummation  of  a  hideous  death, 
was  a  thousand  times  worse.  To-day  such  a 
functionary  as  a  witch-finder  exists,  it  is  true; 
but  only  amongst  the  very  lowest  and  most 
debased  savages.  And  it  is  only  by  the  recorded 
types  made  known  to  us  that  it  is  possible  even  to 
guess  at  the  iniquity  of  their  measures,  the  vileness 
of  their  actions.  In  the  full  tally  of  the  two  cen- 
turies during  which  the  witch  mania  existed  in 
England,  it  is  impossible  to  parallel  the  baseness 
of  the  one  man  who  distinguished  himself  in  this 



loathsome  occupation.  The  facts  of  his  history 
speak  for  themselves.  Matthew  Hopkins  was 
born  in  Suffolk  early  in  the  seventeenth  century. 
He  was  the  son  of  a  minister,  James  Hopkins  of 
Wenham.  He  was  brought  up  for  the  law,  and 
when  enrolled  as  an  attorney,  practised  in  Ipswich; 
but  after  a  while  he  moved  to  Manningtree  where, 
after  he  had  given  up  the  law,  he  took  to  the  calling 
of  witch-finder,  being  the  first  person  in  England 
to  follow  that  honourable  trade. 

If  he  had  had  no  suitable  opportunities  of 
earning  an  honest  livelihood  and  been  graced 
with  no  education,  some  excuse  might  have  been 
offered  for  his  despicable  calling.  But  when 
we  remember  that  he  passed  his  youth  in  a 
household  practising  religion,  and  was  a  mem- 
ber of  a  learned  profession,  it  is  difficult  to  find 
words  sufficiently  comprehensive  for  the  fit  ex- 
pression of  our  natural  indignation  against  him. 
If  picturesque  profanity  were  allowable,  it  might 
be  well  applied  to  this  despicable  wretch  and  his 
nefarious  labours.  In  no  imaginable  circumstances 
could  there  possibly  be  anything  to  be  said  in  miti- 
gation of  his  infamy.  When  we  think  that  the 
whole  ritual  of  oppression  was  in  his  own  hands — 
that  he  began  with  lying  and  perjury,  and  ended 
with  murder;  that  he  showed,  throughout,  ruthless 
callousness  for  the  mental  and  physical  torture  of 
great  numbers  of  the  most  helpless  class  of  the 
community,  the  poor,  the  weak,  the  suffering,  the 


helpless  and  hopeless;  that  when  once  his  foul  im- 
agination had  consecrated  any  poor  wretch  to  de- 
struction, or  his  baleful  glance  had  unhappily 
lighted  on  some  unsuspecting  victim  there  was  for 
such  only  the  refuge  of  death,  and  that  by  some 
means  of  prolonged  torture,  we  cannot  find  any 
hope  or  prospect  even  in  evil  dreams  of  the  nether 
world,  of  any  adequate  punishment  for  his  dread- 
ful sins.  When  we  remember  that  this  one  man — 
if  man  he  can  be  called — was  in  himself  responsible 
for  what  amounted  to  the  murder  of  some  two  hun- 
dred women  whom  he  pursued  to  the  death,  the 
magnitude  of  his  guilt  can  be  guessed  but  not 

He  occupied  three  whole  years  in  his  fell 
work;  and  in  those  years,  1644,  1645  and  1646,  he 
caused  a  regular  reign  of  terror  throughout  the 
counties  of  Huntingdon,  Norfolk,  Suffolk  and  Es- 
sex. He  had  a  gang  of  his  own  to  help  him  in  his 
gruesome  work  of  "discovering"  witches;  amongst 
whom  was  a  wretch  called  John  Stern  and — to 
her  shame — a  woman,  whose  name  is  unrecorded. 
These  three  had  a  sort  of  mock  assize  of  their  own. 
They  made  regular  tours  of  discovery,  at  a  charge 
of  twenty  shillings  for  expenses  at  each  place  they 
visited.  There  appears  to  have  been  a  fee  paid  or 
exacted  for  each  witch  "bagged";  and  such  was  his 
greed  that  after  a  while  he  actually  lowered  the 
price.  In  1645,  which  was  perhaps  his  "best"  year, 
the  price  declined  to  a  shilling  a  head.     Hopkins 


and  his  gang  took  comfort,  however,  from  the  fact 
that  the  industry  was  a  growing  one.  The  trade 
had  only  been  initiated  in  1644,  and  already  in  a 
year's  time  he  had  in  one  day  procured  the  execu- 
tion of  eighteen  alleged  witches ;  and  at  the  end  of 
that  assize,  after  the  gaol  delivery  had  been 
effected,  one  hundred  and  twenty  suspects  still 
awaited  trial.  In  the  skilful  hands  of  Matthew 
Hopkins,  trial  was  only  a  step  on  the  road  to  cer- 
tain execution  by  one  of  the  forms  in  use.  Here 
came  in,  not  only  the  witchfinder's  legal  knowledge, 
but  also  his  gift  of  invention — the  latter  being 
used  in  the  formulation  of  so-called  "tests"  which 
were  bound  to  be  effective.  Of  these  the  simplest 
was  the  water  test.  The  subject's  thumbs  were  tied 
together  and  she  was  then  thrown  into  water  of 
sufficient  depth.  If  she  did  not  drown,  it  was  taken 
as  a  proof  of  guilt;  and  she  was  hanged  by  form 
of  law.  In  some  cases,  as  an  alternative,  she  was 
burned.  If  she  did  not  stand  the  test  her  friends 
had  the  pleasure  of  knowing  that  she  was  pro- 
nounced to  have  died  innocent.  In  any  case  there 
was  no  further  trouble  with  her.  Such  was  the 
accuracy  as  well  as  the  simplicity  of  similar  "tests" 
that,  in  the  twenty  years  previous  to  the  Restora- 
tion, between  three  and  four  thousand  alleged 
witches  perished  in  England  from  one  cause  or  an- 
other. Hopkins  professed  to  be  both  just  and 
merciful.  He  seemed  generally  willing  to  afford 
a  "test"  to  the  accused;  though,  truth  to  tell,  the 


result  was  always  the  same.  In  such  cases  the  test 
was  eminently  calculated  to  evoke  confession,  and 
such  confession,  no  matter  how  ridiculous  or  ex- 
travagant it  might  be,  was  simply  a  curved  road  to 
the  rope  or  the  torch  instead  of  a  straight  one. 
One  of  these  pleasing  "tests"  was  to  place  the  old 
woman — they  were  all  women  and  all  old — sitting 
cross-legged  on  a  stool  or  table  where  she  could  be 
well  watched.  She  was  generally  kept  in  that  po- 
sition under  inspection,  without  food  or  water,  for 
twenty-four  hours.  At  the  end  of  that  time  such 
resolution  as  had  remained  disappeared,  and  in  the 
vain  blind  hope  of  some  change  for  the  better,  some 
alleviation  however  slight  of  the  grinding  misery, 
of  the  agony  of  body  and  mind  and  soul,  they  con- 
fessed. And  such  confessions!  The  very  consid- 
eration of  such  of  them  as  now  remain  in  the  cold 
third-person  method  of  a  mere  recorder,  almost 
makes  one  weep;  there  is  hardly  a  word  that  is  not 
almost  a  certificate  of  character.  With  every  de- 
sire to  confess — for  such  was  the  last  hope  of 
pleasing  their  torturers — their  utter  ignorance 
of  confessional  matter  is  almost  a  proof  of  in- 

Just  imagine  the  scene — a  village  or  hamlet,  or 
the  poorer  quarter  of  a  small  country  town  with 
squalid  surroundings,  marking  a  poverty  which  in 
this  age  has  no  equal;  a  poor,  old,  lonely  woman 
whose  long  life  of  sordid  misery,  of  hunger  and  the 
diseases  that  huddle  closely  around  want,  hopeless, 


despairing,  recognising  her  fate  through  the  pro- 
longed physical  torture  with  which  age  and  infirm- 
ity rendered  her  unable  even  to  attempt  to  cope. 
Round  her  gathered,  in  a  sickly  ring,  a  crowd  of 
creatures  debased  by  the  exercise  of  greed  and 
cruelty  to  a  lower  level  than  the  beasts.  Their  ob- 
ject is  not  to  inquire,  to  test,  to  judge;  but  only  to 
condemn,  to  wreck,  to  break,  to  shatter.  Some  of 
them,  she  realises  even  in  her  agony,  are  spurred  on 
by  the  same  zeal  which  animated  the  cruelty  of  fol- 
lowers of  Ignatius  in  the  grim  torture-chambers  of 
the  Inquisition. 

The  poor  dazed,  suffering  old  creature,  racked 
with  pains  prolonged  beyond  endurance,  tries  to 
rally  such  glimmerings  of  invention  as  are  possible 
to  her  untaught,  unfed  mind;  but  finds  herself  at 
every  failure  fluttering  helplessly  against  a  wall  of 
spiritual  granite  which  gives  back  not  even  an  echo 
to  her  despairing  cry.  At  last  she  comes  to  that 
stage  where  even  fright  and  fear  have  no  standing 
room,  and  where  the  blank  misery  of  suffering 
ceases  to  be  effective.  Then  the  last  flicker  of  de- 
sire for  truth  or  rectitude  of  purpose  dies  away, 
and  she  receives  in  feeble  acquiescence  such  sug- 
gestions as  are  shouted  or  whispered  to  her,  in  the 
hope  that  by  accepting  them  she  may  win  a  mo- 
ment's ease  of  body  or  mind,  even  if  it  be  her  last 
on  earth.  Driven  beyond  mortal  limits  her  untu- 
tored mind  gives  way;  and  with  the  last  remnants 
of  her  strength  she  yields  her  very  soul  to  her  perse- 


cutors.  The  end  does  not  matter  to  her  now. 
Life  has  no  more  to  offer  her — even  of  pain,  which 
is  the  last  conscious  tie  to  existence.  And  through 
it  all,  ghoul-like,  watching  and  waiting  for  the  col- 
lapse, whilst  outwardly  he  goes  through  the 
mechanical  ritual  of  prayer,  we  see  in  the  back- 
ground the  sinister  figure  of  the  attorney,  prepar- 
ing in  his  mind  such  evidence  as  he  may  procure  or 
invent  for  his  work  of  the  next  day. 

It  needs  the  imagination  of  a  Dante  to  consider 
what  should  be  the  place  of  such  an  one  in  history, 
and  any  eternity  of  punishment  that  that  imagina- 
tion could  suggest  must  be  inadequate.  Even 
pity  itself  which  rests  on  sympathy  and  is  kin  to 
the  eternal  spirit  of  justice,  would  have  imagined 
with  satisfaction  the  wretched  soul  going  through  a 
baleful  eternity  clinging  in  perpetual  agony  of  fear 
to  the  very  King  of  Terrors. 

In  judging  Matthew  Hopkins  one  must  not,  in 
justice  to  others,  accord  him  any  of  the  considera- 
tion which  is  the  due  of  good  intent.  Not  a  score  of 
years  after  his  shameful  death,  a  man  was  born  in 
a  newer  land  far  beyond  the  separating  sea,  who 
through  his  influence,  his  teaching,  the  expression 
of  his  honest  conviction,  was  the  cause  of  perhaps 
more  deaths  than  the  English  anti-witch.  We  re- 
fer to  Cotton  Mather,  who  believed  he  wrought  for 
the  Lord — in  his  own  way — in  Xew  England.  But 
guilt  does  not  attach  to  him.  He  was  an  earnest, 
though  mistaken  man,  and  the  results  of  his  mis- 


taken  teaching  were  at  variance  with  the  trend  of 
his  kindly,  godly  life. 

It  must  be  pleasing  to  the  spirit  of  the  Old  Adam 
which  is  in  us  all  in  some  form,  to  think  of  the 
manner  of  the  death  of  Matthew  Hopkins.  Three 
years  had  exhausted  not  only  the  material  available 
for  his  chosen  work,  but,  what  was  worse  for  him, 
the  patience  of  the  community.  Moreover,  he  had 
given  cause  for  scandal  in  even  his  own  degraded 
trade  and  in  himself,  the  filthiest  thing  in  connec- 
tion with  it.  Xot  content  with  dealing  with  the 
poor,  helpless  folk,  whom  he  had  come  to  regard 
as  his  natural  prey,  he  went  on  fancy  flights  of 
oppression.  At  last  he  went  too  far.  He  ven- 
tured to  denounce  an  aged  clergyman  of  blameless 
life.  The  witch-fever  was  too  strong  for  justice 
in  any  form,  and  neither  age,  high  character, 
nor  sacred  office  could  protect  this  gentleman  of 
eighty  years  of  age.  He  too  was  tortured,  till  in  a 
moment  of  unhinged  mind,  he  confessed  as  he  was 
ordered,  and  was  duly  hanged.  This  was  in  1645. 
The  old  man's  death  was  not  in  vain,  for  it  was 
made  the  occasion  of  much  necessary  plain  speak- 
ing. Presently  the  public  conscience  was  wakened ; 
chiefly  by  another  cleric,  the  Rev.  John  Caule, 
vicar  of  Great  Staughton,  Huntingdonshire — all 
honour  to  him! — who,  though  strange  to  say  he  be- 
lieved in  witchcraft,  realised  the  greater  evil 
wrought  by  men  like  Hopkins.  He  published  a 
pamphlet  in  which  he  denounced  Hopkins  as  a  com- 


mon  nuisance.  The  result,  if  slow,  was  sure.  The 
witch-finder  never  recovered  from  the  shock  of 
Caule's  vigorous  attack.  In  1647,  on  information 
based  on  Hopkins'  own  rules,  he  was  arrested  and 
subjected  to  the  test  which  he  had  devised:  he  was 
tied  by  the  thumbs  and  thrown  into  the  water.  Un- 
fortunately for  himself  he  withstood  the  test — 
drowning,  except  for  a  short  period  of  pangs,  is  an 
easy  death — and  so  was  by  process  of  Law  duly 

One  can  imagine  how  the  whole  atmosphere  of 
the  country — surcharged  with  suspicion,  fear,  op- 
pression, torture,  perjury  or  crime — was  cleared  by 
the  execration  which  followed  the  removal  of  this 
vile  wretch. 




(The  Tichborne  Claimant.) 


IN  the  annals  of  crime,  Arthur  Orton,  the  no- 
torious claimant  to  the  rich  estates  and  title  of 
Tichborne,  takes  a  foremost  place ;  not  only  as 
the  originator  of  one  of  the  most  colossal  attempts 
at  fraud  on  record,  but  also  from  his  remarkable 
success  in  duping  the  public.  It  would  be  difficult 
indeed  to  furnish  a  more  striking  example  of 
the  height  to  which  the  blind  credulity  of  peo- 
ple will  occasionally  attain.  Of  pretenders, 
who  by  pertinacious  and  unscrupulous  lying 
have  sought  to  bolster  up  fictitious  claims,  there 
have  been  many  before  Orton;  but  he  certainly 
surpassed  all  his  predecessors  in  working  out 
the  lie  circumstantial  in  such  a  way  as  to  divide 
the  country  for  years  into  two  great  parties — those 
who  believed  in  the  Claimant,  and  those  who  did 
not.  Over  one  hundred  persons,  drawn  from  every 
class,  and  for  the  most  part  honest  in  their  belief, 
swore  to  the  identity  of  this  illiterate  butcher's  son 
— this  stockman,  mail-rider  and  probably  bush- 
ranger and  thief — as  the  long-lost  son  and  heir  of 
the  ancient  house  of  Tichborne  of  Titchborne.  To 
gain  his  own  selfish  ends  this  individual  was  ready 



to  rob  a  gentlewoman  of  her  fair  fame,  to  destroy 
the  peace  of  a  great  family  who,  to  free  themselves 
from  a  persecution,  as  cruel  as  it  was  vicious,  had  to 
be  pilloried  before  a  ruthless  and  unsympathising 
mob,  to  have  the  privacy  of  their  home  invaded,  and 
to  hear  their  women's  names  banded  from  one 
coarse  mouth  to  another.  Thus,  and  through  no 
fault  of  their  own,  they  were  compelled  to  endure  a 
mental  torture  far  worse  than  any  physical  suffer- 
ing, besides  having  to  expend  vast  sums  of  money, 
as  well  as  time  and  labour,  in  order  to  protect  them- 
selves from  the  would-be  depredations  of  an  un- 
scrupulous adventurer.  It  has  been  estimated  that 
the  resistance  of  this  fictitious  claim  cost  the  Tich- 
borne  estate  not  far  short  of  one  hundred  thousand 

The  baronetcy  of  Tichborne,  now  Doughty-Tich- 
borne,  is  one  of  the  oldest.  It  has  been  claimed 
that  the  family  held  possession  of  the  Manor  of 
Tichborne  for  two  hundred  years  before  the  Con- 
quest. Be  this  as  it  may — and,  in  the  light  of 
J.  H.  Round's  revelations,  some  scepticism  as  to 
these  pre-Xorman  pedigrees  is  permissible — their 
ancestors  may  be  traced  back  to  one  Walter  de 
Tichborne  who  held  the  manor,  from  which  he  took 
his  name,  as  early  as  1135.  Their  names  too, 
are  interwoven  with  the  history  of  the  country. 
Sir  Benjamin,  the  first  baronet — for  the  earlier 
de  Tichbornes  were  knights, — as  Sheriff  of  South- 
hampton, on  the  death  of  Queen  Elizabeth,  re- 

Photo,  by  Maull  &  Fox. 




paired  instantly  to  Winchester  and  on  his  own  in- 
itiative proclaimed  the  accession  of  James  VI  of 
Scotland  as  King  of  England,  for  which  service  he 
was  made  a  baronet,  and  his  four  sons  received  the 
honour  of  knighthood.  His  successor,  Sir  Rich- 
ard, was  a  zealous  supporter  of  the  Royal  cause 
during  the  civil  wars.  Sir  Henry,  the  third  bar- 
onet, hazarded  his  life  in  the  defence  of  Charles  I 
and  had  his  estates  sequestered  by  the  Parliamen- 
tarians though  he  was  recompensed  at  the  Resto- 

Believers  in  occultism  might  see  in  the  trials  and 
tribulations  brought  down  upon  the  unfortunate 
heads  of  the  Tichborne  family  by  the  machinations 
of  the  Claimant,  the  realisation  of  the  doom  pro- 
nounced by  a  certain  Dame  Ticheborne  away  back 
in  the  days  of  Henry  II. 

Sir  Roger  de  Ticheborne  of  those  days  married 
Mabell,  the  daughter  and  heiress  of  Ralph  de  Lam- 
erston,  of  Lamerston,  in  the  Isle  of  Wight,  by 
whom  he  acquired  that  estate.  This  good  wife 
played  the  part  of  lady  bountiful  of  the  neighbour- 
hood. After  a  life  spent  in  acts  of  charity  and 
goodness,  as  her  end  drew  nigh  and  she  lay  on  her 
death  bed,  her  thoughts  went  out  to  her  beloved 
poor.  She  begged  her  husband,  that  in  order  to 
have  her  memory  kept  green  the  countryside  round, 
he  would  grant  a  bequest  sufficient  to  ensure,  once  a 
year,  a  dole  of  bread  to  all  comers  to  the  gates  of 
Tichborne.    To  gratify  her  whim  Sir  Roger  prom- 


ised  her  as  much  land  as  she  could  encompass  while 
a  brand  plucked  from  the  fire  should  continue  to 
burn.  As  the  poor  lady  had  been  bedridden  for 
years  her  husband  may  have  had  no  idea  that  she 
could,  even  if  she  would,  take  his  promise  seriously. 
However,  the  venerable  dame,  after  being  carried 
out  upon  the  ground,  seemed  to  regain  her  strength 
in  a  miraculous  fashion,  and,  to  the  surprise  of  all, 
managed  to  crawl  round  several  rich  and  goodly 
acres  which  to  this  day  are  known  as  "the  Crawls." 

Carried  to  her  bed  again  after  making  this  last 
supreme  effort  and  summoning  her  family  to  her 
bedside,  Lady  Ticheborne  predicted  with  her  dying 
breath,  that,  as  long  as  this  annual  dole  was  con- 
tinued, so  long  should  the  house  of  Tichborne  pros- 
per; but,  should  it  be  neglected,  their  fortunes 
would  fail  and  the  family  name  become  extinct 
from  want  of  male  issue.  As  a  sure  sign  by  which 
these  disasters  might  be  looked  for,  she  foretold 
that  a  generation  of  seven  sons  would  be  immedi- 
ately followed  by  one  of  seven  daughters. 

The  benevolent  custom  thus  established  was  faith- 
fully observed  for  centuries.  On  every  Lady  Day 
crowds  of  humble  folk  came  from  near  and  far  to 
partake  of  the  famous  dole  which  consisted  of  hun- 
dreds of  small  loaves.  But  ultimately  the  occasion 
degenerated  into  a  noisy  merry-making,  a  sort  of 
fair,  until  it  was  finally  discontinued  in  1796,  ow- 
ing to  the  complaints  of  the  magistrates  and  local 
gentry  that  the  practice  encouraged  vagabonds, 


gipsies  and  idlers  of  all  sorts  to  swarm  into  the 
neighbourhood  under  pretence  of  receiving  the  dole. 

Strangely  enough  Sir  Henry  Tichborne,  the 
baronet  of  that  day  (the  original  name  of  de  Tiche- 
borne  had  by  this  time  been  reduced  to  Tichborne) , 
had  seven  sons,  while  his  eldest  son  who  succeeded 
him  in  1821,  had  seven  daughters.  The  extinction 
of  the  family  name,  too,  came  to  pass,  for  in  the 
absence  of  male  issue,  Sir  Henry,  the  eighth  bar- 
onet, was  succeeded  by  his  brother,  who  had  taken 
the  surname  of  Doughty  on  coming  into  the  estates 
bequeathed  to  him  on  these  terms,  by  a  distant  rela- 
tive, Miss  Doughty;  though,  in  after  years,  his 
brother,  who  in  turn  succeeded  him,  obtained  the 
royal  licence  to  couple  the  old  family  name  with 
that  of  Doughty.  Following  this  repeated  lapse 
of  direct  male  heirs  came  other  troubles;  but  it  is 
to  be  hoped  that  the  successful  defeat  of  the  fraudu- 
lent claim  of  Arthur  Orton  set  a  period  to  the  doom 
pronounced  long  years  ago  by  the  Lady  Mabell. 

Most  families,  great  and  small,  have  their  secret 
troubles  and  unpleasantness,  and  the  Tichbornes 
seem  to  have  had  their  share  of  them.  To  this  may 
be  traced  the  actual,  if  remote,  cause  of  the  Claim- 
ant's imposture.  James  Tichborne,  afterwards  the 
tenth  baronet,  the  father  of  the  missing  Roger,  who 
was  drowned  in  the  mysterious  loss  of  the  Bella,  off 
the  coast  of  South  America,  in  the  spring  of  1854, 
lived  abroad  for  many  years;  but,  while  his  wife 
was  French  in  every  sentiment,  he  himself  from 


time  to  time  exhibited  a  keen  desire  to  return  to  his 
native  land.  When  Roger  was  born  there  was 
small  likelihood  of  his  ever  succeeding  to  either 
title  or  estates,  and  so  his  education  was  almost  en- 
tirely a  foreign  one. 

Sir  Henry  Tichborne,  who  had  succeeded  in  1821, 
though  blessed  with  seven  beautiful  daughters,  had 
no  son.  Still  there  was  their  uncle  Edward,  who 
had  taken  the  name  of  Doughty,  and  he,  after  Sir 
Henry,  was  the  next  heir.  Edward,  too,  had  a  son 
and  daughter.  But,  one  day,  news  came  to  James 
and  his  wife,  in  France,  that  their  little  nephew 
was  dead;  and  with  the  possibilities  which  this 
change  opened  up,  it  brought  home  to  the  father 
the  error  he  had  committed  in  permitting  Roger  to 
grow  up  ignorant  of  the  English  tongue  and  habits. 
It  was  manifest  that  Mr.  James  F.  Tichborne  was 
not  unlikely  to  become  the  next  baronet,  and  he 
felt  it  his  bounden  duty  to  make  good  his  previous 
neglect,  by  providing  his  son  with  an  English  edu- 
cation, such  as  would  fit  him  for  his  probable  posi- 
tion as  head  of  the  house  of  Tichborne.  In  this 
praiseworthy  intention  he  met  with  strong  opposi- 
tion from  his  wife  whose  great  aim  it  was  to  see 
her  son  grow  up  a  Frenchman.  To  her,  France 
was  the  only  land  worth  living  in.  She  cared 
nought  for  family  traditions;  her  dream  was  that 
her  darling  boy  should  marry  into  some  distin- 
guished family  in  France  or  Italy.  If  he  was  to 
enter  the  army,  then  it  should  be  in  some  foreign 


service.     But  to  England  he  should  not  go  if  she 
could  prevent  it. 

James  Tichborne,  like  many  weak  men  with  self- 
willed  wives,  put  off  the  inevitable  day  as  long  as 
he  could;  and  in  the  end  only  achieved  his  purpose 
by  strategy.  Roger  was  sixteen  years  of  age  when 
news  arrived  of  the  death  of  Sir  Henry.  Naturally 
James  arranged  to  be  present  at  his  brother's 
funeral  and  it  was  only  reasonable  that  he  should 
be  accompanied  by  his  son  Roger,  whom  everyone 
now  regarded  as  the  heir.  Accordingly  the  boy 
took  leave  of  his  mother,  but  under  the  solemn  in- 
junction to  return  quickly.  However,  his  father 
had  determined  otherwise.  After  attending  the 
funeral  of  his  uncle,  at  the  old  chapel  at  Tichborne, 
Roger  was,  by  the  advice  of  relatives  and  friends, 
and  with  the  consent  of  the  boy  himself,  taken  down 
to  the  Jesuit  College  at  Stonyhurst.  When  Mrs. 
Tichborne  learned  of  this  step,  her  fury  knew  no 
bounds.  She  upbraided  her  husband  violently ;  and 
there  was  a  renewal  of  the  old  scenes  in  the  Tich- 
borne establishment.  Roger  wrote  his  mother 
filial,  if  ill-spelt,  letters  in  French;  but,  for  a  year, 
the  son,  though  ardently  looking  for  a  letter,  got 
no  token  of  affection  from  the  incensed  and  in- 
dignant lady. 

During  his  three  years'  stay  at  Stonyhurst, 
Roger  seems  to  have  applied  himself  diligently  to 
the  study  of  English;  but,  though  he  made  fair 
progress,  he  was  never  able  to  speak  it  with  as  much 


purity  and  command  of  words  as  when  conversing 
in  French.  In  Latin,  mathematics,  and  chemistry, 
too,  he  contrived  to  make  fair  headway;  while  his 
letters  evidenced  an  inclination  for  the  study  of 
polite  literature.  If  not  highly  accomplished,  he 
was  of  a  refined  and  sensitive  nature.  During  this 
period  he  made  many  friends,  spending  his  vaca- 
tion with  his  English  relatives  in  turn.  His  great 
delight  was  to  stay  at  Tichborne,  then  in  possession 
of  his  father's  brother,  Sir  Edward  Doughty. 
Withal,  the  shy,  pale-faced  boy  steadily  gained  in 
favour,  for  he  had  a  nature  which  disarmed  ill-feel- 
ing. As  time  wore  on  it  became  necessary  to  de- 
termine on  some  profession  for  the  lad;  and  need- 
less to  say  his  father's  choice  of  the  army  added 
fuel  to  the  fire  of  his  wife's  anger.  After  some 
delay  a  commission  was  obtained  and  Mr.  Roger 
Charles  Tichborne  was  gazetted  a  coronet  in  the 
Sixth  Dragoons,  better  known  as  the  Carbineers. 

Defeated  in  her  purpose  of  making  a  Frenchman 
of  her  boy,  Roger's  mother  yet  continued  to  harp 
upon  her  old  desire  to  marry  him  to  one  of  the 
Italian  princesses  of  whom  he  had  heard  so  much. 
But  Roger  had  other  ideas,  for  he  had  fallen  pas- 
sionately in  love  with  his  cousin — Miss  Katharine 
Doughty  afterwards  Lady  RadclifFe.  However, 
the  course  of  love  was  not  to  run  smooth.  The 
Tichbornes  had  always  been  Roman  Catholic,  and 
the  marriage  of  first  cousins  was  discountenanced 
by  that  church.     Consequently  when  some  little 


token  incidentally  revealed  to  the  father  the  secret 
and  yet  unspoken  love  of  the  young  people,  their 
dream  was  rudely  shattered. 

That  the  girl  warmly  reciprocated  her  cousin's 
affection  was  beyond  question,  and  Lady  Doughty 
was  certainly  sympathetic  though  she  took  excep- 
tion to  certain  of  her  nephew's  habits.  He  was  an 
inveterate  smoker  besides  drinking  too  freely. 
These  and  other  little  failings  seem  to  have  aroused 
some  fear  in  her  anxious  mother's  heart,  though  she 
quite  recognised  the  boy's  kind  disposition,  and  the 
fact  that  he  was  truthful,  honourable  and  scrupu- 
lous in  points  of  duty.  Still  she  would  not  oppose 
the  wishes  of  the  young  lovers — except  to  the  ex- 
tent of  pleading  and  encouraging  Roger  to  master 
his  weaknesses.  It  was  Christmas  time  in  1851 
when  the  denoument  came  and  the  eyes  of  Sir  Ed- 
ward were  opened  to  what  was  going  on.  He  was 
both  vexed  and  angry,  and  was  resolved  that  the  en- 
gagement should  be  broken  off  before  it  grew  more 
serious.  One  last  interview  was  permitted  to  the 
cousins  and,  this  over,  the  young  man  was  to  leave 
the  house  forever.  The  great  hope  of  his  life  ex- 
tinguished, there  was  nothing  left  for  Roger  but 
to  rejoin  his  regiment,  then  expecting  orders  for 
India,  and  to  endeavour  to  forget  the  past.  Still 
even  in  those  dark  days  neither  Roger  nor  Kate 
quite  gave  up  hope  of  some  change.  Lady 
Doughty,  despite  her  dread  of  her  nephew's  habits, 
had  a  warm  regard  for  him,  and  could  be  relied 


upon  to  plead  his  cause;  and  in  a  short  time  cir- 
cumstances unexpectedly  favoured  him.  Sir  Ed- 
ward was  ill  and,  fearing  that  death  was  approach- 
ing, he  sent  for  his  nephew  and  revived  the  subject. 
He  explained  that  if  it  were  not  for  the  close  rela- 
tionship he  should  have  no  objection  to  the  marriage 
and  begged  Roger  to  wait  for  three  years.  If  then 
the  affection,  one  for  the  other,  remained  unaltered, 
and  providing  that  Roger  obtained  his  own  father's 
consent  and  that  of  the  Church,  he  would  accept 
things  as  the  will  of  God  and  agree  to  the  union. 
As  might  be  expected,  Roger  gratefully  promised 
loyally  to  observe  the  sick  man's  wishes. 

However,  Sir  Edward,  instead  of  dying,  slowly 
mended,  and  Roger  returned  to  his  regiment.  Oc- 
casionally he  would  spend  his  leave  with  his  aunt 
and  uncle,  when  the  young  people  loved  to  walk 
together  in  the  beautiful  gardens  of  Tichborne  ex- 
changing sweet  confidences  and  weaving  plans  for 
the  future.  On  what  proved  to  be  his  last  visit  to 
his  ancestral  home,  in  the  midsummer  of  1852, 
Roger,  to  comfort  his  cousin,  confided  a  secret  to 
ner — a  COpy  of  a  vow,  which  he  had  written  out 
and  signed,  solemnly  pledging  himself,  in  the  event 
of  their  being  married  before  three  years  had 
passed,  to  build  a  church  or  chapel  at  Tichborne  as 
a  thanks  offering  to  the  Holy  Virgin  for  the  pro- 
tection shown  by  her  in  praying  God  that  their 
wishes  might  be  fulfilled. 

His  leave  up,  Roger  went  back  to  his  regiment 


more  than  ever  a  prey  to  his  habitual  melancholy. 
To  his  great  regret  the  orders  for  the  Carbineers 
to  go  to  India  were  countermanded.  He  accord- 
ingly determined  to  throw  up  his  commission  and 
travel  abroad  until  his  period  of  probation  had 
passed.  South  America  had  long  been  the  subject 
of  his  dreams,  and  so  thither  he  would  make  his 
way;  and  in  travelling  through  that  vast  continent 
he  hoped  to  find  occupation  for  his  mind  and  so  get 
through  the  trying  period  of  waiting.  His  plan 
was  to  spend  a  year  in  Chili,  Guayaquil  and  Peru, 
and  thence  to  visit  Mexico,  and  so,  by  way  of  the 
United  States,  to  return  home.  Having  come  to 
this  resolution  he  lost  no  time  in  putting  it  into  ex- 
ecution. Being  of  business-like  habits  he  made  his 
will,  in  which  he  purposely  omitted  any  mention  of 
the  "church  or  chapel."  This  secret  had  already 
been  committed  to  paper,  and  with  other  precious 
souvenirs  of  his  love  for  his  cousin,  had  been  con- 
fided to  his  most  trusted  friend — Mr.  Gosford,  the 
steward  of  the  family  estate.  After  paying  a 
round  of  farewell  visits  to  his  parents  and  old 
friends  in  Paris,  Roger  finally  set  sail  from  Havre, 
on  March  21,  1853,  in  a  French  vessel  named  La 
Pauline,  for  Valparaiso,  at  which  port  she  arrived 
on  the  19th  of  the  following  June,  when  Roger  set 
out  on  his  wanderings.  During  his  travels  Roger 
continued  to  write  home  regularly;  but  the  first 
news  he  received  was  bad.  Sir  Edward  Doughty 
had  died  almost  before  the  Pauline  had  lost  sight 


of  the  English  shores;  and  Roger's  father  and 
mother  were  now  Sir  James  and  Lady  Tichborne. 

Presently  the  wanderer  began  to  retrace  his  steps, 
making  his  way  to  Rio  de  Janeiro.  Here,  he  found 
a  vessel  called  the  Bella  hailing  from  Liverpool, 
about  to  sail  for  Kingston,  Jamaica,  and  as  he  had 
directed  his  letters  and  remittances  to  be  forwarded 
there,  he  prevailed  upon  the  captain  to  give  him  a 
passage.  On  the  20th  of  April,  1854,  the  Bella 
passed  from  the  port  of  Rio  into  the  ocean.  From 
that  day  no  one  ever  set  eyes  upon  her.  Six 
days  after  she  left  harbour,  a  ship  traversing 
her  path  found,  amongst  other  ominous  tokens 
of  a  wreck,  a  capsized  long-boat  bearing  the  name 
"Bella,,  Liverpool." 

These  were  taken  into  Rio  and  forthwith  the 
authorities  caused  the  neighbouring  seas  to  be 
scoured  in  quest  of  survivors;  but  none  were  ever 
found.  That  the  Bella  had  foundered  there  was 
little  room  to  doubt.  It  was  supposed  that  she  had 
been  caught  in  a  sudden  squall,  that  her  cargo  had 
shifted,  and  that,  unable  to  right  herself,  the  vessel 
had  gone  down  in  deep  water,  giving  but  little 
warning  to  those  on  board.  In  a  few  months  the 
sad  news  reached  Tichborne,  where  the  absence  of 
letters  from  the  previously  diligent  correspondent 
had  already  raised  grave  fears.  The  sorrow- 
stricken  father  caused  enquiries  to  be  made  in 
America  and  elsewhere.  For  a  time,  there  was  a 
faint  hope  that  some  one  aboard  the  Bella  might 


have  been  picked  up  by  some  passing  vessel ;  but,  as 
months  wore  on,  even  these  small  hopes  dwindled 
away.  The  letters  which  poor  Roger  had  so  anx- 
iously asked  might  be  directed  to  him  at  the  post 
office,  Kingston,  Jamaica,  remained  there  till  the 
ink  grew  faded;  the  banker's  bill  which  lay  at  the 
agents'  remained  unclaimed.  At  last  the  unfortu- 
nate vessel  was  finally  written  off  at  Lloyd's  as 
lost,  the  insurance  money  paid,  and  gradually  the 
Bella  faded  from  the  memories  of  all  but  those  who 
had  lost  friends  or  relatives  in  her.  Lady  Tich- 
borne  alone,  refused  to  abandon  hope. 

Her  obstinate  disregard  of  such  conclusive  evi- 
dence of  the  fate  of  her  unfortunate  son  preyed 
upon  her  mind  to  such  an  extent  as  to  make  her  an 
easy  victim  for  any  scheming  rascal  pretending  to 
have  news  of  her  lost  son;  and  "sailors,"  who  told 
all  sorts  of  wild  stories  of  how  some  of  the  survivors 
of  the  Bella  had  been  rescued  and  landed  in  a  for- 
eign port,  became  constant  visitors  at  Tichborne 
Park  and  profited  handsomely  from  the  weak- 
minded  lady's  credulity.  Sir  James,  himself,  made 
short  work  of  these  tramping  "sailors,"  but  after 
his  death,  in  1862,  the  lady  became  even  more  ready 
to  be  victimised  by  their  specious  lies. 

Firm  in  her  belief  that  Roger  was  still  alive, 
Lady  Tichborne  now  caused  advertisements  to  be 
inserted  in  numerous  papers;  and  in  November, 
1865,  she  learnt  through  an  agency  in  Sydney  that 
a  man  answering  the  description  of  her  son  had  been 


found  in  Wagga  Wagga,  New  South  Wales.  A 
long  correspondence  ensued,  the  tone  and  character 
of  which  ought  to  have  put  her  on  her  guard ;  but, 
over-anxious  to  believe  that  she  had  indeed  found 
her  long-lost  son,  any  wavering  doubts  she  may 
have  had,  were  swept  from  her  mind  by  the  evidence 
of  an  aged  negro  servant  named  Boyle,  an  old  pen- 
sioner of  the  Tichborne  family.  Boyle,  who  lived 
in  New  South  Wales,  professed  to  recognise  the 
Claimant  as  his  dear  young  master,  and  he  certainly 
remained  one  of  his  most  devoted  adherents  to  the 
end.  Undoubtedly  this  man's  simplicity  proved  a 
very  valuable  asset  to  Orton.  His  intimate  knowl- 
edge of  the  arrangements  of  Tichborne  Park  was 
pumped  dry  by  his  new  master,  who,  aided  by  a 
most  tenacious  memory,  was  afterwards  able  to  use 
the  information  thus  obtained  with  startling  effect. 
As  to  the  identity  of  the  Claimant  with  Arthur 
Orton  there  can  be  absolutely  no  doubt.  As  a  re- 
sult of  the  enquiries  made  by  the  trustees  of  the 
Tichborne  estate  nearly  the  whole  of  his  history  was 
unmasked.  He  was  born,  in  1834,  at  Wapping 
where  his  father  kept  a  butcher's  shop.  In  1848  he 
took  passage  to  Valparaiso,  whence  he  made  his 
way  up  country  to  Melipilla.  Here  he  stayed  some 
eighteen  months  receiving  much  kindness  from  a 
family  named  Castro,  and  it  was  their  name  he  went 
under  at  Wagga  Wagga.  In  1851  he  returned 
home  and  entering  his  father's  business  became  an 
expert  slaughterman.     The  following  year  he  emi- 


grated  to  Australia;  but  after  the  spring  of  1854  he 
ceased  to  correspond  with  his  family.  He  had  evi- 
dently led  a  life  of  hardship  and  adventure — prob- 
ably not  unattended  with  crime,  and  certainly  with 
poverty.  At  Wagga  Wagga  he  carried  on  a  small 
butcher's  business,  and  it  was  from  here  that  he  got 
into  communication  with  Lady  Tichborne  just 
after  his  marriage  to  an  illiterate  servant  girl. 

According  to  his  subsequent  confession,  until  his 
attention  was  drawn  to  the  advertisement  for  the 
missing  Roger,  he  had  never  even  heard  of  the  name 
of  Tichborne,  and  it  was  only  his  success  when, 
by  way  of  a  joke  upon  a  chum,  he  claimed  to  be  the 
missing  baronet,  that  led  him  to  pursue  the  matter 
in  sober  earnest.  Indeed  he  seemed  at  first  very 
reluctant  to  leave  Australia,  and  probably  he  was 
only  driven  to  accede  to  Lady  Tichborne's  request, 
to  return  "home"  at  once,  by  the  fact  that  he  had 
raised  large  sums  of  money  on  his  expectations. 
His  original  intention  was  probably  to  obtain  some 
sort  of  recognition,  and  then  to  return  to  Australia 
with  whatever  money  he  had  succeeded  in  collect- 

After  wasting  much  time  he  left  Australia  and 
arrived  in  England,  by  a  very  circuitous  route,  on 
Christmas  Day,  1866.  His  first  step  on  landing,  it 
was  subsequently  discovered,  was  to  make  a  mys- 
terious visit  to  Wapping.  His  parents  were  dead, 
but  his  enquiries  showed  a  knowledge,  both  of  the 
Orton  family  and  the  locality,  which  was  after- 


wards  used  against  him  with  very  damaging  ef- 
fect. His  next  proceeding  was  to  make  a  flying 
and  surreptitious  excursion  to  Tichborne  House, 
where,  as  far  as  possible,  he  acquainted  himself  with 
the  bearings  of  the  place.  In  this  he  was  greatly 
assisted  by  one  Rous,  a  former  clerk  to  the  old 
Tichborne  attorney,  who  was  then  keeping  a  public 
house  in  the  place.  From  this  man,  who  became 
his  staunch  ally,  he  had  no  doubt  acquired  much 
useful  information;  and  it  is  significant  that  he 
sedulously  kept  clear  of  Mr.  Gosford,  the  agent  to 
whom  the  real  Roger  had  confided  his  sealed  packet 
before  leaving  England. 

Lady  Tichborne  was  living  in  Paris  at  this  time 
and  it  was  here,  in  his  hotel  bedroom,  on  a  dark 
January  afternoon,  that  their  first  interview  took 
place  for,  curiously  enough,  the  gentleman  was  too 
ill  to  leave  his  bed !  The  deluded  woman  professed 
to  recognise  him  at  once.  As  she  sat  beside  his  bed, 
"Roger"  keeping  his  face  turned  to  the  wall,  the 
conversation  took  a  wide  range,  the  sick  man  show- 
ing himself  strangely  astray.  He  talked  to  her  of 
his  grandfather,  whom  the  real  Roger  had  never 
seen;  he  said  he  had  served  in  the  ranks;  referred 
to  Stonyhurst  as  Winchester ;  spoke  of  his  suffering 
as  a  lad  from  St.  Vitus's  dance — a  complaint  which 
first  led  to  young  Arthur  Orton  being  sent  on  a 
sea  voyage;  but  did  not  speak  of  the  rheumatism 
from  which  Roger  had  sufTered.  But  it  was  all 
one  to  the  infatuated  woman — "He  confuses  every- 


thing  as  if  in  a  dream,"  she  wrote  in  exculpating 
him;  but  unsatisfactory  as  this  identification  was, 
she  never  departed  from  her  belief.  She  lived 
under  the  same  roof  with  him  for  weeks,  accepted 
his  wife  and  children,  and  allowed  him  £1,000  a 
year.  It  did  not  weigh  with  her  that  the  rest  of 
the  family  unanimously  declared  him  to  be  an  im- 
postor, or  that  he  failed  to  recognise  them  or  to 
recall  any  incident  in  Roger's  life. 

Nearly  four  years  elapsed  before  the  Claimant 
commenced  his  suit  of  ejectment  against  the  trus- 
tees of  the  infant  Sir  Alfred  Tichborne— the  post- 
humous son  of  Roger's  younger  brother;  but  he 
utilised  the  time  to  good  purpose.  He  had  taken 
into  his  service  a  couple  of  old  Carbineers  who  had 
been  Roger's  servants  and  before  long  so  com- 
pletely mastered  small  details  of  regimental  life  that 
some  thirty  of  Roger's  old  brother-officers  and  men 
were  convinced  of  his  identity.  He  went  every- 
where, called  upon  all  Roger's  old  friends,  visited 
the  Carbineers'  mess  and  generally  left  no  stone  un- 
turned to  get  together  evidence  in  support  of  his 
identity.  As  a  result  of  his  strenuous  activity  and 
plausibility  he  produced  at  the  first  trial  over  one 
hundred  witnesses  who,  on  oath,  identified  him  as 
Roger  Tichborne;  and  these  witnesses  included 
Lady  Tichborne,  the  family  solicitor,  magistrates, 
officers  and  men  from  Roger's  old  regiment  be- 
sides various  Tichborne  tenants  and  friends  of  the 
family.     On  the  other  hand,  there  were  only  seven- 


teen  witnesses  arraigned  against  him;  and,  in  his 
own  opinion,  it  was  his  own  evidence  that  lost  him 
the  case.  He  would  have  won,  he  said,  "if  only- 
he  could  have  kept  his  mouth  shut." 

The  trial  of  this  action  lasted  102  days.  Ser- 
geant Ballantine  led  for  the  Claimant;  and  Sir 
John  Coleridge  (afterwards  Lord  Chief-justice), 
and  Mr.  Hawkins,  Q.  C.  (afterwards  Lord  Bramp- 
ton), for  the  trustees  of  the  estates  of  Tichborne. 
The  cross-examination  of  the  Claimant  at  the  hands 
of  Sir  John  Coleridge  lasted  twenty-two  days, 
during  which  the  colossal  ignorance  he  displayed 
was  only  equalled  by  his  boldness,  dexterity  and  the 
bull-dog  tenacity  with  which  he  faced  the  ordeal. 
To  quote  Sir  John's  own  words :  "The  first  sixteen 
years  of  his  life  he  has  absolutely  forgotten ;  the  few 
facts  he  had  told  the  jury  were  already  proved,  or 
would  hereafter  be  shown,  to  be  absolutely  false  and 
fabricated.  Of  his  college  life  he  could  recollect 
nothing.  About  his  amusements,  his  books,  his 
music,  his  games,  he  could  tell  nothing.  Not  a 
word  of  his  family,  of  the  people  with  whom  he 
lived,  their  habits,  their  persons,  their  very  names. 
He  had  forgotten  his  mother's  maiden  name;  he 
was  ignorant  of  all  particulars  of  the  family  estate ; 
he  remembered  nothing  of  Stonyhurst;  and  in  mili- 
tary matters  he  was  equally  deficient.  Roger,  born 
and  educated  in  France,  spoke  and  wrote  French 
like  a  native  and  his  favourite  reading  was  French 
literature;    but    the    Claimant    knew    nothing    of 


French.  Of  the  'sealed'  packet  he  knew  nothing 
and,  when  pressed,  his  interpretation  of  its  contents 
contained  the  foulest  and  blackest  calumny  of  the 
cousin  whom  Roger  had  so  fondly  loved.  This  was 
proved  by  Mr.  Gosford,  to  whom  the  packet  had 
been  originally  entrusted,  and  by  the  production 
of  the  duplicate  which  Roger  had  given  to  Miss 
Doughty  herself.  The  physical  discrepancy,  too, 
was  no  less  remarkable ;  for,  while  Roger,  who  took 
after  his  mother  was  slight  and  delicate,  with  nar- 
row sloping  shoulders,  a  long  narrow  face  and  thin 
straight  dark  hair,  the  Claimant  was  of  enormous 
bulk,  scaling  over  twenty-four  stone,  big-framed 
and  burly,  with  a  large  round  face  and  an  abun- 
dance of  fair  and  rather  wavy  hair.  And  yet,  curi- 
ously enough,  the  Claimant  undoubtedly  possessed 
a  strong  likeness  to  several  male  members  of  the 
Tichborne  family." 

When  questioned  as  to  the  impressive  episode  of 
Roger's  love  for  his  cousin,  the  Claimant  showed 
himself  hopelessly  at  sea.  His  answers  were  con- 
fused and  irreconcilable.  Not  only  could  he  give 
no  precise  dates,  but  even  the  broad  outline  of  the 
story  was  beyond  him.  Yet,  for  good  reasons,  the 
Solicitor-General  persisted  in  pressing  him  as  to  the 
contents  of  the  sealed  packet  and  compelled  him  to 
repeat  the  slanderous  version  of  the  incident  which 
he  had  long  ago  given  when  interrogated  on  the 
point.  Mrs.  Radcliffe  (she  was  not  then  Lady) 
sat  in  court  beside  her  husband,  and  thus  had  the 


satisfaction  of  seeing  the  infamous  charges  brought 
against  the  fair  fame  of  her  girlhood  recoil  on  the 
head  of  the  wretch  who  had  resorted  to  such  vil- 
lainous devices.  Unfortunately,  some  years  after 
Roger's  disappearance,  Mr.  Gosford,  feeling  that 
he  was  neither  justified  in  keeping  the  precious 
packet,  nor  in  handing  it  to  any  other  person,  had 
burnt  it;  but,  fortunately  his  testimony  as  to  its 
contents  was  proved  in  the  most  complete  manner 
by  the  production  of  the  duplicate  which  poor 
Roger  had  given  to  his  cousin  on  his  last  visit  to 

Where  the  case  broke  down  most  completely  was 
in  the  matter  of  tattoo  marks.  Roger  had  been 
freely  tattooed.  Among  other  marks  he  bore,  on 
his  left  arm,  a  cross,  an  anchor,  and  a  heart  which 
was  testified  to  by  the  persons  who  had  pricked  them 
in.  Orton,  too,  it  was  found  out,  had  also  been 
tattooed  on  his  left  arm  with  his  initials,  "A.  O.," 
and,  though  neither  remained,  there  was  a  mark 
which  was  sworn  to  be  the  obliteration  of  those  let- 
ters. Small  wonder  then  that,  on  the  top  of  this 
damning  piece  of  evidence,  the  jury  declared  they 
required  to  hear  nothing  further,  upon  which  the 
Claimant's  counsel,  to  avoid  the  inevitable  verdict 
for  their  opponents,  elected  to  be  nonsuited.  But 
these  tactics  did  not  save  their  client,  for  he  was  at 
once  arrested,  on  the  judge's  warrant,  on  the  charge 
of  wilful  and  corrupt  perjury,  and  committed  to 


Newgate  where  he  remained  until  bail  for  £10,000 
was  forthcoming. 

A  year  later,  on  April  23,  1873,  the  Claimant 
was  arraigned  before  a  special  jury  in  the  Court 
of  Queen's  Bench.  The  proceedings  were  of  a 
most  prolix  and  unusual  character.  Practically 
the  same  ground  was  covered  as  in  the  civil  trial, 
only  the  process  was  reversed :  the  Claimant  having 
now  to  defend  instead  of  to  attack.  Many  of  the 
better-class  witnesses,  including  the  majority  of 
Roger's  brother-officers,  now  forsook  the  Claimant. 
There  was  a  deal  of  cross-swearing.  The  climax 
of  the  long  trial  was  the  production  by  the  defence 
of  a  witness  to  support  the  Claimant's  account  of 
his  wreck  and  rescue.  This  was  a  man  who  called 
himself  Jean  Luie  and  claimed  to  be  a  Danish  sea- 
man. With  a  wealth  of  picturesque  detail  he  told 
how  he  was  one  of  the  crew  of  the  Osprey  which 
had  picked  up  a  boat  of  the  shipwrecked  Bella,  in 
which  was  the  claimant  and  some  of  the  crew,  and 
how  when  the  Osprey  arrived  at  Melbourne,  in  the 
height  of  the  gold  fever,  every  man  of  the  crew 
from  the  captain  downwards  had  deserted  the  ship 
and  gone  up  country.  According  to  his  story  from 
that  time  forth  he  had  seen  nothing  of  any  of  the 
castaways;  but  having  come  to  England  in  search 
of  his  wife  he  had  heard  of  the  trial.  When  Luie 
was  first  brought  into  the  presence  of  the  Claimant 
that  astute  person  immediately  claimed  him  with 


the  greeting  in  Spanish  eeComo  esta,  Lute?" — 
"How  are  you,  Luie?"  The  sailor  with  equal 
readiness  recognised  Orton  as  the  man  he  had 
helped  to  rescue  years  before.  All  this  sounded 
very  convincing;  but  it  would  not  stand  investiga- 
tion. From  the  beginning  to  end  the  thing  was  an 
invention;  an  examination  of  shipping  records 
failed  to  find  the  Osprey  so  that  she  must  have  es- 
caped the  notice  of  the  authorities  in  every  port  she 
had  entered  from  the  day  she  was  launched!  Of 
"Sailor"  Luie,  however,  a  very  complete  record  was 
established.  Not  only  were  the  police  able  to  prove 
that,  at  the  time  he  swore  he  was  a  seaman  on  board 
the  Osprey,,  he  was  actually  employed  by  a  firm  at 
Hull;  that  he  had  never  been  a  seaman  at  all;  but 
that  he  was  a  well-known  habitual  criminal  and  con- 
vict only  recently  released  on  a  ticket-of -leave. 
This  made  tilings  very  awkward  for  the  defence 
who  made  every  effort  to  shake  free  from  the  taint 
of  such  perjured  evidence.  Dr.  Kenealy,  seeing 
his  dilemma,  contended  that  it  had  been  concocted 
by  Luie  himself.  But  the  damning  and  unanswer- 
able fact  remained — that,  by  his  recognition  of  the 
man,  the  Claimant  had  acknowledged  a  previous  ac- 
quaintance with  him  which  he  could  only  have  had 
by  being  privy  to  the  fraud. 

On  February  28,  1874,  the  one  hundred  and 
eighty-eighth  day  of  the  trial,  the  jury  after  half- 
an-hour's  deliberation  returned  their  verdict. 
They  found  that  the  defendant  was  not  Roger 


Charles  Tichborne;  that  he  was  Arthur  Orton;  and 
finally  that  the  charges  made  against  Miss 
Catherine  Doughty  were  not  supported  by  the 
slightest  evidence.  Orton  was  sentenced  to  four- 
teen years'  penal  servitude  which,  assuredly,  was 
none  too  heavy  for  offences  so  enormous.  The 
trial  was  remarkable,  not  only  for  its  inordinate 
length,  but  also  for  the  extraordinary  scenes  by 
which  it  was  characterised  and  for  which  Dr. 
Kenealy,  leading  counsel  for  the  defence,  was  pri- 
marily responsible.  His  conduct  was  sternly  de- 
nounced by  the  Lord  Chief  Justice  in  his  summing 
up  as:  "the  torrent  of  undisguised  and  unlimited 
abuse  in  which  the  learned  counsel  for  the  defence 
has  thought  fit  to  indulge,"  and  he  declared  that 
"there  never  was  in  the  history  of  jurisprudence  a 
case  in  which  such  an  amount  of  imputation  and  in- 
vective had  been  used  before."  After  the  trial  was 
over,  Dr.  Kenealy  tried  to  turn  the  case  into  a  na- 
tional question  through  the  medium  of  a  virulent 
paper  he  started  with  the  title  of  the  Englishman; 
and  undeterred  by  being  disbarred  for  his  flagrant 
breaches  of  professional  etiquette,  he  went  about  the 
country  delivering  the  most  extravagant  speeches 
concerning  the  trial.  He  was  elected  Member  of 
Parliament  for  Stoke,  and,  on  April  23,  1875, 
moved  for  a  royal  commission  of  inquiry  into  the 
conduct  of  the  Tichborne  Case ;  but  his  motion  was 
defeated  by  433  votes  to  1. 

The  verdict  and  sentence  created  enormous  ex- 


citement  throughout  the  country,  for  all  classes, 
more  or  less,  had  subscribed  to  the  defence  fund. 
But,  by  the  time  Orton  was  released,  in  1884,  prac- 
tically all  interest  had  died  away,  and  his  effort  to 
resuscitate  it  was  a  miserable  failure.  In  the 
sworn  confession  which  he  published  in  the  People, 
in  1895,  he  told  the  whole  story  of  the  fraud  from 
its  inception  to  its  final  denouement.  Orton  sur- 
vived his  release  from  prison  for  fourteen  years, 
but  gradually  sinking  into  poverty,  he  died  in  ob- 
scure lodgings  in  Shouldham  Street,  Marylebone, 
on  April  1,  1898.  To  the  end  he  was  a  fraud  and 
impostor  for,  before  his  death,  he  is  said  to  have 
recanted  his  sworn  confession,  which  nevertheless 
bore  the  stamp  of  truth  and  was  in  perfect  accord 
with  the  information  obtained  by  the  prosecution, 
while  his  coffin  bore  the  lying  inscription:  "Sir 
Roger  Charles  Doughty  Tichborne;  born  5th 
January,  1829;  died  1st  April,  1898." 




ONE  of  the  commonest  forms  of  imposture 
— so  common  that  it  seems  rooted  in  a 
phase  of  human  nature — is  that  of  women 
who  disguise  themselves  as  men.  It  is  not  to  be 
wondered  at  that  such  attempts  are  made;  or 
that  they  were  made  more  often  formerly  when 
social  advancement  had  not  enlarged  the  scope 
of  work  available  for  women.  The  legal  and 
economic  disabilities  of  the  gentler  sex  stood 
then  so  fixedly  in  the  way  of  working  oppor- 
tunity that  women  desirous  of  making  an  hon-  i 
est  livelihood  took  desperate  chances  to  achieve  ( 
their  object.  We  have  read  of  very  many  cases  inj 
the  past;  and  even  now  the  hum-drum  of  life  is 
broken  by  the  fact  or  the  echo  of  some  startling  rev- 
elation of  the  kind.  Only  very  lately  the  death  of 
a  person  who  had  for  many  years  occupied  a 
worthy  though  humble  position  in  London  caused 
a  post-mortem  sensation  by  the  discovery  that  the 
deceased  individual,  though  looked  on  for  about  a 
quarter  of  a  century  as  a  man,  a  widower,  and  the 
father  of  a  grown-up  daughter,  was  in  reality  a 
woman.     She  was  actually  buried  under  the  name 



of  the  man  she  had  professed  to  be,  Harry  Lloyd. 
It  is  not  to  be  wondered  at  that  in  more  stren- 
uous times,  when  the  spirit  of  adventure  was  less 
curbed,  and  initial  difficulties  were  less  deadened 
by  convention,  cases  of  concealment  of  sex  were  far 
more  numerous  and  more  easily  prolonged.  In 
an  age  of  foreign  wars,  many  existing  barriers 
against  success  in  this  respect  were  removed  by 
general  laxity  of  social  conditions.  Perhaps  I  may 
be  allowed  to  say  at  the  outset  that,  for  my  own 
part,  my  mind  refuses  absolutely  to  accept  that 
which  is  generally  alleged  in  each  case,  that  the 
male  comrades  of  women  concealing  their  proper 
sex  were,  all  through,  ignorant  of  the  true  facts. 
Human  nature  is  opposed  to  such  a  supposition, 
and  experience  bears  out  the  shrewdness  of  nature. 
On  occasions,  or  even  for  a  time,  it  is  possible  to 
make  such  successful  concealments.  But  when  we 
are  told  that  a  woman  has  gone  through  a  whole 
campaign  or  a  prolonged  voyage  in  all  the  over- 
crowded intimacy  of  tent  and  bivouac  or  of  cabin 
and  forecastle,  without  such  a  secret  being  sus- 
pected or  discovered,  the  narrator  makes  an  over- 
large  draft  on  human  credulity.  That  such  com- 
rades, and  many  of  them,  forbore  to  give  away  the 
secret,  no  matter  how  it  had  come  into  their  posses- 
sion, we  may  well  believe.  Comradeship  is  a  strong 
factor  in  such  matters,  and  it  has  its  own  loyalty, 
which  is  never  stronger  than  when  the  various  per- 
sons interested  are  held  together  by  the  knowledge 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  229 

of  a  common  danger.  But  even  to  this  there  is  a 
contra;  the  whole  spirit  of  romance,  even  when  it 
binds  man  to  woman  and  woman  to  man,  stands 
side  by  side  with  love,  affection,  passion — call  it 
what  you  will — which  opportunity  can  fan  into 
flame.  Never  more  so  than  in  the  strenuous  days 
of  fighting,  when  day  and  night  are  full  of  varying 
fears — when  the  mad  turmoil  of  working  hours  and 
loneliness  of  the  night  forge  new  fetters  for  the 
binding  together  of  the  sexes. 

In  real  life,  when  a  man  or  a  woman  tries  to  es- 
cape from  capture  or  the  fear  of  it  in  the  guise  of 
the  opposite  sex,  it  is  a  never-ending  struggle  to 
sustain  the  role  successfully.  If  this  is  so,  when  the 
whole  of  the  energies  of  mind  and  body  are  de- 
voted in  singleness  of  purpose  to  the  task,  how  then 
can  the  imposture  be  successfully  prolonged  when 
the  mind  is  eternally  occupied  with  the  pressing 
things  of  the  passing  moments?  There  must  in- 
fallibly be  moments  of  self -betrayal ;  and  there  is 
sufficient  curiosity  in  the  average  person  to  insure 
that  the  opportunities  of  such  moments  are  not  lost. 
Be  this  as  it  may,  we  must  in  the  first  instance  stick 
to  matters  of  fact;  the  record  is  our  sheet-anchor. 
After  all,  when  we  learn  of  a  case  where  an  im- 
posture of  the  kind  has  been  successfully  carried 
out,  it  is  time  enough  to  argue  with  convincing  per- 
spicacity that  it  should  not  have  been  possible. 

As  to  record,  there  are  quite  sufficient  cases  to 
convince  any  reader  as  to  the  fact  that,  allowing  for 


all  possible  error  and  wastage,  there  have  been  a 
sufficient  number  undetected  at  the  time  of  their 
happening,  and  only  made  known  by  after-con- 
fession and  by  the  force  of  ulterior  circumstances. 
Whatever  opinion  we  may  form  of  the  women  who 
carried  out  the  venture,  there  is  neither  occasion  nor 
need  to  doubt  the  fact  they  were  so  carried  out. 
The  consideration  of  a  few  cases  culled  from  the 
records  of  this  class  of  successful  imposture  will 
make  this  plain.  It  would  be  useless,  if  not  impos- 
sible, to  make  full  lists  of  the  names  of  women  who 
have  passed  themselves  off  as  men  in  the  fight- 
ing world — soldiers  and  sailors,  with  side  interests 
such  as  piracy,  duelling,  highway  robbery,  etc. 
Amongst  the  female  soldiers  are  the  names  of 
Christian  Davis  (known  as  Mother  Ross),  Hannah 
Snell,  Phoebe  Hessel.  Amongst  the  sailors  those 
of  Mary  Talbot,  Ann  Mills,  Hannah  Whitney, 
Charles  Waddell.  In  the  ranks  of  the  pirates  are 
Mary  Reid  and  Ann  Bonney.  In  many  of  these 
cases  are  underlying  romances,  as  of  women  mak- 
ing search  for  lost  or  absconding  husbands,  or  of 
lovers  making  endeavours  to  regain  the  lost  para- 
dise of  life  together. 

If  there  were  nothing  else  in  these  little  histories, 
their  perusal  in  detail  would  well  repay  attention 
as  affording  proof  of  the  boundless  devotion  of 
woman's  love.  No  matter  how  badly  the  man  may 
have  treated  the  woman,  no  matter  how  heartlessly 
or  badly  he  may  have  behaved  towards  her,  her  af- 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  231 

f  ection  was  proof  against  all.  Indeed  it  makes  one 
believe  that  there  is  some  subtle  self-sustaining, 
self -ennobling  quality  in  womanhood  which  her 
initial  self -surrender  makes  a  constant  force  to- 
wards good.  Even  a  nature  which  took  new 
strength  from  the  turmoil  of  battle,  from  the  har- 
rowing suspense  of  perpetual  vigil,  from  the  strain 
of  physical  weakness  bravely  borne,  from  pain  and 
want  and  hunger,  instead  of  hardening  into  obsti- 
nate indifference,  seems  to  have  softened  as  to 
sentiment,  and  been  made  gentle  as  to  memory,  as 
though  the  sense  of  wrong  had  been  purged  by  the 
forces  of  affliction.  All  this,  though  the  stress  of 
campaigning  may  have  blunted  some  of  the  conven- 
tional susceptibility  of  womanhood.  For  the  after 
life  of  some  of  these  warlike  heroines  showed  that 
they  had  lost  none  of  the  love  of  admiration  which 
marks  their  sex,  none  of  their  satisfaction  in  posing 
as  characters  other  than  their  own.  Several  of 
them  found  pleasure  in  a  new  excitement  differ- 
ent from  that  of  battle,  in  the  art  of  the  stage. 
Whenever  any  of  them  made  any  effort  to  settle 
down  in  life  after  their  excitement  in  the  lif e  of  the 
camp  or  the  sea,  such  did  so  at  some  place,  and 
in  some  way  congenial  to  herself  and  consistent 
with  the  life  which  she  was  leaving. 

B.       HANNAH    SNELL. 

Hannah  Snell  is  a  good  instance  of  how  the  life 
of  a  woman  who  was  not  by  nature  averse  from  ad- 


venture  was  moulded  by  chance  in  the  direction 
which  suited  her  individuality.  Of  course,  liking 
for  a  militant  life,  whether  in  conventional  or  ex- 
ceptional form,  presupposes  a  natural  boldness  of 
spirit,  resolution,  and  physical  hardihood — all  of 
which  this  woman  possessed  in  an  eminent  degree. 
She  was  born  at  Worcester  in  1723,  one  of  the 
family  of  a  hosier  who  had  three  sons  and  six 
daughters.  In  1740,  when  her  father  and  mother 
were  dead,  she  went  to  live  at  Wapping  with  a  sis- 
ter who  had  married  a  ship  carpenter  named  Gray. 
There  she  married  a  Dutch  sailor,  who  before  her 
baby  was  born,  had  squandered  such  little  property 
as  her  father  had  left  her,  and  then  deserted  her. 
She  went  back  to  her  sister,  in  whose  house  the  baby 
died.  In  1743,  she  made  up  her  mind  to  search 
for  her  husband.  To  this  end  she  put  on  man's 
clothes  and  a  man's  name  (that  of  her  brother-in- 
law)  and  enlisted  in  General  Guise's  regiment.  At 
Carlisle,  whither  the  regiment  was  sent  she  learned 
something  of  a  soldier's  duties.  In  doing  so  she 
was  selected  by  her  sergeant,  a  man  called  Davis, 
to  help  him  in  carrying  out  a  criminal  love  affair. 
In  order  to  be  able  to  warn  the  girl  she  pretended 
acquiescence.  In  revenge  the  sergeant  reported 
her  for  an  alleged  neglect  of  some  duty  for  which 
according  to  the  barbarous  system  of  the  time  she 
was  sentenced  to  600  lashes ;  of  these  she  had  actu- 
ally received  500  when  on  the  intervention  of  some 
of  the  officers  the  remaining  hundred  were  fore- 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  233 

gone.     After  this,  fearing  further  aggression  on 
the  part  of  the  revengeful  petty  officer  she  de- 
serted.    She  walked  all  the  way  to  Portsmouth — 
a  journey  which  occupied  a  whole  month — where 
she  again  enlisted  as  a  marine  in  Eraser's  regiment, 
which  was  shortly  ordered  on  foreign  service  to  the 
East  Indies.     There  was  a  storm  on  the  way  out, 
during  which  she  worked  manfully  at  the  pumps. 
When  the  ship  had  passed  Gibraltar  there  was  an- 
other bad  storm  in  which  she  was  wrecked.     Han- 
nah Snell  found  her  way  to  Madeira  and  thence  to 
the  Cape  of  Good  Hope.     Her  ship  joined  in  the 
taking  of  Arcacopong  on  the  Coromandel  Coast; 
in  which  action  Hannah  fought  so  bravely  that  she 
was  praised  by  her  officers.     Later  on  she  assisted 
in  the  siege  of  Pondicherry  which  lasted  nearly 
three  months  before  it  had  to  be  abandoned.     In  the 
final  attempt  she  served  on  picket  duty  and  had  to 
ford,  under  fire,  a  river  breast  high.     During  the 
struggle  she  received  six  bullets  in  the  right  leg, 
five  in  the  left  leg,  and  one  in  the  abdomen.     Her 
fear  was  not  of  death  but  discovery  of  her  sex 
through  the  last-named  wound.     By  the  friendly 
aid  of  a  black  woman,  however,  she  avoided  this 
danger.     She  managed  to  extract  the  bullet  her- 
self, with  her  finger  and  thumb,  and  the  wound 
made  a  good  cure.     This  wound  caused  her  a  delay 
of  some  weeks  during  which  her  ship  had  to  leave;; 
for  Bombay  and  was  delayed  five  weeks  by  a  leak. 
Poor  Hannah  was  again  unfortunate  in  her  officers ; 


one  of  them  to  whom  she  had  refused  to  sing  had 
her  put  in  irons  and  given  a  dozen  lashes.  In  1749 
she  went  to  Lisbon,  where  she  learned  by  chance 
that  her  husband  had  met  at  Genoa  the  death 
penalty  by  drowning,  for  a  murder  which  he  had 
committed.  Discovery  of  her  sex  and  her  identity 
would  have  been  doubly  dangerous  now;  but  hap- 
pily she  was  able  to  conceal  her  alarm  and  so  es- 
caped detection.  She  got  back  to  London  through 
Spithead  and  once  more  found  shelter  in  the  house 
of  her  sister  who  at  once  recognised  her  in  spite  of 
her  disguise.  Her  fine  singing  voice,  which  had 
already  caused  her  to  be  flogged,  now  stood  her  in 
good  stead.  She  applied  for  and  obtained  an  en- 
gagement at  the  Royalty  theatre,  Wellclose  square ; 
and  appeared  with  success  as  Bill  Bobstay  a  sailor 
and  Firelock  a  soldier.  She  remained  on  the  stage 
for  some  months,  always  wearing  male  dress.  The 
government  of  the  day  gave  her,  on  account  of  the 
hardships  she  had  endured,  a  pension  of  £20  per 
annum.  Later  on  she  took  a  public-house  at  Wap- 
ping.  The  sign  of  her  hostelry  became  noted. 
On  one  side  of  it  was  painted  in  effigy  The  British 
Tar  and  on  the  other  The  Valiant  Marine,  and  un- 
derneath The  Widow  in  masquerade,  or  the  Female 

As  Hannah  appeared  during  her  adventurous 
career  as  both  soldier  and  sailor  she  affords,  in  her- 
self, an  illustrious  example  of  female  courage  as 
well  as  female  duplicity  in  both  of  the  services. 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  235 

C.      LA   MAUPIN. 

The  majority  of  the  readers  of  the   English- 
speaking    race    who    enjoy    Theophile    Gautier's 
fascinating    romance    Mademoiselle    de    Maupin 
are  not  aware  that  the  heroine  was  a  real  per- 
son.     The    novelist    has    of    course    made    such 
alterations    as    are    required    to    translate    crude 
fact  into  more  elegant  fiction,  and  to  obliterate  so 
far  as  can  be  done  the  criminal  or  partly-criminal 
aspect  of  the  lady's  venturous  career.     But  such  is 
one   of  the   chief   duties   of   an   artist   in   fiction. 
Though  he  may  be  an  historian,  in  a  sense,  he  is  not 
limited  to  the  occasional  bareness  of  truth.     His 
object  is  not  that  his  work  shall  be  true  but  rather 
what  the  French  call  vraisemblable.     In  narrative, 
as  in  most  arts,  crudeness  is  rather  a  fault  than  a 
virtue,  so  that  the  writer  who  looks  for  excellence 
in  his  work  has  without  losing  force,  to  fill  up  the 
blanks  left  by  the  necessary  excision  of  fact  by  sub- 
tleties of  thought  and  graces  of  description,  so  that 
the  fulness  or  rotundity  of  the  natural  curves  shall 
always  be  maintained.     In  truth  the  story  of   La 
Maupin    is  so  laden  with  passages  of  excitement 
and  interest  that  any  writer  on  the  subject  has  only 
to  make  an  agreeable  choice  of  episodes  sufficiently 
dramatic,  and  consistent  with  each  other,  to  form  a 
cohesive  narrative.     Such  a  work  has  in  it  possi- 
bilities of  great  success — if  only  the  author  has  the 
genius  of  a  Theophile  Gautier  to  set  it  forth.     The 


real  difficulty  which  such  an  one  would  have  to  con- 
tend against  would  be  to  remove  the  sordidness,  the 
reckless  passion,  the  unscrupulousness,  the  criminal 
intent  which  lies  behind  such  a  character. 

The  Mademoiselle  de  Maupin  of  real  life  was  a 
singer  at  the  Opera  in  Paris  at  the  end  of  the 
seventeenth  century.  She  was  the  daughter  of  a 
man  of  somewhat  humble  extraction  engaged  in 
secretarial  work  with  the  Count  d'Armagnac;  and 
whilst  only  a  girl  married  a  man  named  Maupin 
employed  in  the  province.  With  him  she  had  lived 
only  a  few  months  when  she  ran  away  with  a 
maitre  d'armes  (anglice,  a  fencing  master)  named 
Serane.  If  this  individual  had  no  other  good  qual- 
ity in  matters  human  or  divine,  he  was  at  least  a 
good  teacher  of  the  sword.  His  professional  arts 
were  used  in  the  service  of  his  inamorata,  who  be- 
came herself  an  excellent  swordsman  even  in  an  age 
when  swordsmanship  had  an  important  place  in 
social  life.  It  may  have  been  the  sexual  equality 
implied  by  the  name  which  gave  the  young  woman 
the  idea,  but  thenceforth  she  became  a  man  in  ap- 
pearance;— in  reality,  in  so  far  as  such  a  meta- 
morphosis can  be  accomplished  by  courage,  reck- 
lessness, hardihood,  unscrupulousness,  and  a  willing 
obedience  to  all  the  ideas  which  passion  and  sensual- 
ity can  originate  and  a  greed  of  notoriety  carry  into 

In  a  professional  tour  from  Paris  to  Marseilles, 
in  which  she  as  an  actress  took  the  part  of  a  man, 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  237 

she  gained  the  affections  of  the  flighty  daughter  of 
a  rich  merchant  of  Marseilles;  and,  as  a  man,  ran 
away  with  her.  Being  pursued,  they  sought  ref- 
uge in  a  convent — a  place  which  at  that  age  it  was 
manifestly  easier  to  get  into  than  to  get  out  of. 
Here  the  two  remained  for  a  few  days,  during 
which,  by  the  aid  of  histrionic  and  other  arts,  the 
actress  obviated  the  necessary  suspicions  of  her 
foolish  companion  and  kept  danger  away.  All  the 
while  La  Maupin  was  conscious  that  an  irate  and 
rich  father  was  in  hot  search  for  his  missing  daugh- 
ter, and  she  knew  that  any  talk  about  the  venture 
would  infallibly  lose  her  the  girl's  fortune,  besides 
getting  herself  within  the  grip  of  the  law.  So  she 
decided  on  a  bold  scheme  of  escape  from  the  con- 
vent, whereby  she  might  obliterate  her  tracks.  A 
nun  of  the  convent  had  died  and  her  body  was 
awaiting  burial.  In  the  night  La  Maupin  ex- 
changed the  body  of  the  dead  nun  for  the  living  one 
of  her  own  victim.  Having  thus  got  her  compan- 
ion out  of  the  convent,  she  set  the  building  on  fire 
to  cover  up  everything,  and  escaped  in  secret  to  a 
neighbouring  village,  taking  with  her  by  force  the 
girl,  who  naturally  enough  was  disillusioned  and 
began  to  have  scruples  as  to  the  wisdom  of  her  con- 
duct. In  the  village  they  remained  hidden  for  a 
few  weeks,  during  which  time  the  repentance  of  the 
poor  girl  became  a  fixed  quantity.  An  attempt, 
well  supported,  was  made  to  arrest  the  ostensible 
man;  but  this  was  foiled  by  the  female  swordsman 


who  killed  one  of  the  would-be  captors  and  danger- 
ously wounded  two  others.  The  girl,  however, 
made  good  her  escape ;  secretly  she  fled  from  her  de- 
ceiver and  reached  her  parents  in  safety.  But  the 
hue  and  cry  was  out  after  La  Maupin,  whose 
identity  was  now  known.  She  was  pursued,  cap- 
tured, and  placed  in  gaol  to  await  trial.  The  law 
was  strong  and  inexorable;  the  erring  woman  who 
had  thus  outraged  so  many  conventions  was  con- 
demned to  be  burned  alive. 

But  abstract  law  and  the  executive  are  quite  dif- 
ferent things — at  least  they  were  in  France  at  the 
close  of  the  seventeenth  century:  as  indeed  they  are 
occasionally  in  other  countries  and  at  varying  times. 
La  Maupin,  being  a  woman  and  a  clever  one,  pro- 
cured sufficient  influence  to  have  the  execution  post- 
poned, and  so  had  the  full  punishment  delayed,  if 
not  entirely  avoided.  More  than  this,  she  man- 
aged to  get  back  to  Paris  and  so  to  begin  her  nox- 
ious career  all  over  again.  Of  course  she  had 
strong  help  from  her  popularity.  She  was  a  fa- 
vourite at  the  opera,  and  the  class  which  patronises 
and  supports  this  kind  of  artistic  effort  is  a  rich 
and  powerful  one,  which  governments  do  not  care 
to  displease  by  the  refusal  of  such  a  small  favour 
as  making  the  law  hold  its  hand  with  regard  to  an 
erring  favourite. 

But  La  Maupin's  truculent  tendencies  were  not 
to  be  restrained.  In  Paris  in  1695  whilst  she  was 
one  of  the  audience  at  a  theatre  she  took  umbrage 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  239 

at  some  act  or  speech  of  one  of  the  comedians  play- 
ing in  the  piece,  and  leaving  her  seat  went  round 
to  the  stage  and  caned  him  in  the  presence  of  the 
audience.  The  actor,  M.  Dumenil,  an  accom- 
plished and  favourite  performer  but  a  man  of 
peaceful  disposition,  submitted  to  the  affront  and 
took  no  action  in  the  matter.  La  Maupin,  how- 
ever, suffered,  through  herself,  the  penalty  of  her 
conduct.  She  had  entered  on  a  course  of  violence 
which  became  a  habit.  For  some  years  she  flour- 
ished and  exercised  all  the  tyrannies  of  her  own  sex 
and  in  addition  those  habitual  to  men  which  came 
from  expert  use  of  the  sword.  Thus  she  went  at- 
tired as  a  man  to  a  ball  given  by  a  Prince  of  the 
blood.  In  that  garb  she  treated  a  fellow-guest,  a 
woman,  with  indecency ;  and  she  was  challenged  by 
three  different  men — each  of  whom,  when  the  con- 
sequent fight  came  on,  she  ran  through  the  body, 
after  which  she  returned  to  the  ball.  Shortly  after- 
wards she  fought  and  wounded  a  man,  M.  de 
Servan,  who  had  affronted  a  woman.  For  these 
escapades  she  was  again  pardoned.  She  then  went 
to  Brussels  where  she  lived  under  the  protection  of 
Count  Albert  of  Bavaria,  the  Elector.  With  him 
she  remained  until  the  quarrel,  inevitable  in  such  a 
life,  came.  After  much  bickering  he  agreed  to  her 
demand  of  a  settlement,  but  in  order  to  show  his 
anger  by  affronting  her  he  sent  the  large  amount 
of  his  involuntary  bequest  by  the  servile  hand  of 
the  husband  of  his  mistress,  Countess  d'Arcos,  who 


had  supplanted  her,  with  a  curt  message  that  she 
must  leave  Brussels  at  once.  The  bearer  of  such  a 
message  to  such  a  woman  as  La  Maupin  had  prob- 
ably reckoned  on  an  unfriendly  reception;  but  he 
evidently  underestimated  her  anger.  Not  con- 
tented with  flinging  at  his  head  the  large  douceur 
of  which  he  was  the  bearer,  she  expressed  in  her 
direct  way  her  unfavourable  opinion,  of  him,  of  his 
master,  and  of  the  message  which  he  had  carried 
for  the  latter.  She  ended  her  tirade  by  kicking 
him  downstairs,  with  the  justification  for  her  form 
of  physical  violence  that  she  would  not  sully  her 
sword  with  his  blood. 

From  Brussels  she  went  to  Spain  as  femme  de 
chambre  to  the  Countess  Marino  but  returned  to 
Paris  in  1704.  Once  more  she  took  up  her  work 
as  an  opera  singer ;  or  rather  she  tried  to  take  it  up, 
but  she  had  lost  her  vogue,  and  the  public  would 
have  none  of  her.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  she  was 
only  just  above  thirty  years  of  age,  which  should 
under  normal  circumstances  be  the  beginning  of  a 
woman's  prime.  But  the  life  she  had  been  leading 
since  her  early  girlhood  was  not  one  which  made  for 
true  happiness  or  for  physical  health;  she  was  pre- 
maturely old,  and  her  artistic  powers  were  worn  out. 

Still,  her  pluck,  and  the  obstinacy  on  which  it 
was  grafted,  remained.  For  a  whole  year  she 
maintained  a  never-failing  struggle  for  her  old  su- 
premacy, but  without  avail.     Seeing  that  all  was 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  241 

lost,  she  left  the  stage  and  returned  to  her  husband 
who,  realising  that  she  was  rich,  managed  to  recon- 
cile whatever  shreds  of  honour  he  had  to  her  in- 
famous record.  The  Church,  too,  accepted  her — 
and  her  riches — within  its  sheltering  portals.  By 
the  aid  of  a  tolerant  priest  she  got  absolution,  and 
two  years  after  her  retirement  from  the  opera  she 
died  in  a  convent  in  all  the  odour  of  sanctity. 

D.      MARY  EAST 

The  story  of  Mary  East  is  a  pitiful  one, 
and  gives  a  picture  of  the  civil  life  of  the 
eighteenth  century  which  cannot  be  lightly  for- 
gotten. The  condition  of  things  has  so  changed 
that  already  we  almost  need  a  new  terminology  in 
order  that  we  may  understand  as  our  great-grand- 
fathers did.  Take  for  instance  the  following  sen- 
tence and  try  individually  how  many  points  in  it 
there  are,  the  full  meaning  of  which  we  are  unable 
to  understand : 

"A  young  fellow  courted  one  Mary  East,  and  for 
him  she  conceived  the  greatest  liking;  but  he  going 
upon  the  highway,  was  tried  for  a  robbery  and  cast, 
but  was  afterwards  transported." 

The  above  was  written  by  an  accomplished 
scholar,  a  Doctor  of  Divinity,  rector  of  an  English 
parish.  At  the  time  of'  its  writing,  1825,  every 
word   of   it   was   entirely   comprehensible.     If   a 


reader  of  that  time  could  see  it  translated  into  mod- 
ern phraseology  he  would  be  almost  as  much  sur- 
prised as  we  are  when  we  look  back  upon  an  age 
holding  possibilities  no  longer  imaginable. 

"Going  upon  the  highway"  was  in  Mary  East's 
time  and  a  hundred  years  later  a  euphemism  for 
becoming  a  highway  robber;  "cast"  meant  con- 
demned to  death;  "transported"  meant  exiled  to  a 
far  distant  place  where  one  was  guarded,  and  es- 
cape from  which  was  punishable  with  death. 
Moreover  robbery  was  at  this  time  a  capital  of- 

In  1736,  when  Mary  East  was  sixteen,  life  was 
especially  hard  on  women.  Few  honest  occupa- 
tions were  open  to  them,  and  they  were  subject  to 
all  the  hardships  consequent  on  a  system  in  which 
physical  weakness  was  handicapped  to  a  frightful 
extent.  When  this  poor  girl  was  bereft  of  her  nat- 
ural hope  of  a  settlement  in  life  she  determined,  as 
the  least  unattractive  form  of  living  open  to  her,  to 
remain  single.  About  the  same  time  a  friend  of 
hers  arrived  at  the  same  resolution  but  by  a  differ- 
ent road,  her  course  being  guided  thereto  by  hav- 
ing "met  with  many  crosses  in  love."  The  two 
girls  determined  to  join  forces;  and  on  consulting 
as  to  ways  and  means  decided  that  the  likeliest  way 
to  avoid  suspicion  was  to  live  together  under  the 
guise  of  man  and  wife.  The  toss  of  a  coin  decided 
their  respective  roles,  the  "breeches  part"  as  it  is 
called  in  the  argot  of  the  theatre,  falling  to  East. 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  243 

The  combined  resources  of  the  girls  totalled  some 
thirty  pounds  sterling,  so  after  buying  masculine 
garb  for  Mary  they  set  out  to  find  a  place  where 
they  were  unknown  and  so  might  settle  down  in 
peace.  They  found  the  sort  of  place  they  sought 
in  the  neighbourhood  of  Epping  Forest  where, 
there  being  a  little  public-house  vacant,  Mary — 
now  under  the  name  of  James  How — became  the 
tenant.  For  some  time  they  lived  in  peace  at  Ep- 
ping, with  the  exception  of  a  quarrel  forced  by  a 
young  gentleman  on  the  alleged  James  How  in 
which  the  latter  was  wounded  in  the  hand.  It  must 
have  been  a  very  one-sided  affair,  for  when  the  in- 
jured "man"  took  action  he  was  awarded  £500 
damages — a  large  sum  in  those  days  and  for  such 
a  cause.  With  this  increase  to  their  capital  the  two 
women  moved  to  Limehouse  on  the  east  side  of  Lon- 
don where  they  took  at  Limehouse-hole  a  more  im- 
portant public-house.  This  they  managed  in  so  ex- 
cellent a  manner  that  they  won  the  respect  of  their 
neighbours  and  throve  exceedingly. 

After  a  time  they  moved  from  Limehouse  to 
Poplar  where  they  bought  another  house  and  added 
to  their  little  estate  by  the  purchase  of  other  houses. 

Peace,  hard  work,  and  prosperity  marked  their 
life  thence-forward,  till  fourteen  years  had  passed 
since  the  beginning  of  their  joint  venture. 

Peace  and  prosperity  are,  however,  but  feeble 
guardians  to  weakness.  Nay,  rather  are  they  in- 
centive to  evil  doing.     For  all  these  years  the  two 


young  women  had  conducted  themselves  with  such 
rectitude,  and  observed  so  much  discretion,  that 
even  envy  could  not  assail  them  through  the  web  of 
good  repute  which  they  had  woven  round  their  mas- 
querade. Alone  they  lived,  keeping  neither 
female  servant  nor  male  assistant.  They  were 
scrupulously  honest  in  their  many  commercial  deal- 
ings and,  absolutely  punctual  in  their  agreements 
and  obligations.  James  How  took  a  part  in  the 
public  life  of  his  locality,  filling  in  turn  every  parish 
office  except  those  of  Constable  and  Churchwarden. 
From  the  former  he  was  excused  on  account  of  the 
injury  to  his  hand  from  which  he  had  never  com- 
pletely recovered.  Regarding  the  other  his  time 
had  not  yet  come,  but  he  was  named  for  Church- 
warden in  the  year  following  to  that  in  which  a 
bolt  fell  from  the  blue,  1730.  It  came  in  this  wise : 
A  woman  whose  name  of  coverture  was  Bently, 
and  who  was  now  resident  in  Poplar,  had  known  the 
alleged  James  How  in  the  days  when  they  were 
both  young.  Her  own  present  circumstances  were 
poor  and  she  looked  on  the  prosperity  of  her  old  ac- 
quaintance as  a  means  to  her  own  betterment.  It 
was  but  another  instance  of  the  old  crime  of  "black- 
mail." She  sent  to  the  former  Mary  East  for  a  loan 
of  £10,  intimating  that  if  the  latter  did  not  send  it 
she  would  make  known  the  secret  of  her  sex.  The 
poor  panic-stricken  woman  foolishly  complied  with 
the  demand,  thus  forcing  herself  deeper  into  the 
mire  of  the  other  woman's  unscrupulousness.     The 

WOMEN  AS  MEN  245 

forced  loan,  together  with  Bently's  fears  for  her 
own  misdeed  procured  immunity  for  some  fifteen 
years  from  further  aggression.  At  the  end  of  that 
time,  however,  under  the  renewed  pressure  of  need 
Bently  repeated  her  demand.  "James  How"  had 
not  the  sum  by  her,  but  she  sent  £5— another  link 
in  the  chain  of  her  thraldom. 

From  that  time  on  there  was  no  more  peace  for 
poor  Mary  East.     Her  companion  of  nearly  thirty- 
five  years  died  and  she,  having  a  secret  to  guard 
and  no  assistance  being  possible,  was  more  helpless 
than  ever  and  more  than  ever  under  the  merciless 
yoke  of  the  blackmailer.     Mrs.  Bently  had  a  fair 
idea  of  how  to  play  her  own  despicable  game.     As 
her  victim's  fear  was  her  own  stock-in-trade  she 
supplemented  the  sense  of  fear  which  she  knew  to 
exist  by  a  conspiracy  strengthened  by  all  sorts  of 
schemes  to  support  its  seeming  bona  fides.     She 
took  in  two  male  accomplices  and,  thus  enforced, 
began    operations.      Her    confederates    called    on 
James  How,  one  armed  with  a  constable's  staff,  the 
other  appearing  as  one  of  the  "thief -takers"  of  the 
gang  of  the  notorious  magistrate,   Fielding — an 
evil  product  of  an  evil  time.     Having  confronted 
How  they  told  him  that  they  had  come  by  order  of 
Mr.  Justice  Fielding  to  arrest  him  for  the  com- 
mission of  a  robbery  over  forty  years  before,  alleg- 
ing that  they  were  aware  of  his  being  a  woman. 
Mary  East,  though  quite  innocent  of  any  such  of- 
fence but  acutely  conscious  of  her  imposture  of 


manhood,  in  her  dismay  sought  the  aid  of  a  friend 
called  Williams  who  understood  and  helped  her. 
He  went  to  the  magistrates  of  the  district  and  then 
to  Sir  John  Fielding  to  make  inquiries  and  claim 
protection.  During  his  absence  the  two  villains 
took  Mary  East  from  her  house  and  by  threats  se- 
cured from  her  a  draft  on  Williams  for  £100. 
With  this  in  hand  they  released  their  victim  who 
was  even  more  anxious  than  themselves  not  to  let 
the  matter  have  greater  publicity  than  it  had  al- 
ready obtained.  However,  Justice  demanded  a 
further  investigation,  and  one  of  the  men  being 
captured — the  other  had  escaped — was  tried,  and 
being  found  guilty,  was  sentenced  to  imprisonment 
for  four  years  together  with  four  appearances  in 
the  pillory. 

Altogether  Mary  East  and  her  companion  had 
lived  together  as  husband  and  wife  for  nearly 
thirty-five  years,  during  which  time  they  had  hon- 
estly earned,  and  by  self-denial  saved,  over  four 
thousand  pounds  sterling  and  won  the  good  opinion 
of  all  with  whom  they  had  come  in  contact.  They 
were  never  known  to  cook  a  joint  of  meat  for  their 
own  use,  to  employ  any  help,  or  to  entertain  private" 
friends  in  their  house.  They  were  cautious,  care- 
ful, and  discreet  in  every  way  and  seemed  to  live 
their  lives  in  exceeding  blamelessness. 



THERE  is  a  class  of  imposture  which  must 
be  kept  apart  from  others  of  its  kind,  or  at 
least  ear-marked  in  such  wise  that  there 
can  be  no  confusion  of  ideas  regarding  it.  This  in- 
cludes all  sorts  of  acts  which,  though  often  attended 
with  something  of  the  same  result  as  other  efforts 
to  mislead,  are  yet  distinguished  from  them  by  in- 
tention. They  have — whatever  may  be  their  re- 
sults— a  jocular  and  humorous  intention.  Such 
performances  are  called  hoaxes.  These,  though 
amusing  to  their  perpetrators  and  to  certain  sport- 
ive persons,  and  though  generally  causing  a  due 
amount  of  pain  and  loss  to  those  on  whom  they  are 
inflicted,  usually  escape  the  condign  and  swift  pun- 
ishment which  they  deserve.  It  is  generally  held 
that  humour,  like  charity,  covereth  a  multitude  of 
sins.  So  be  it.  We  are  all  grateful  for  a  laugh 
no  matter  who  may  suffer. 


Not  many  years  ago,  in  one  of  the  popular 
dairy-refreshment  shops  in  Holborn,  the  prim 
manageress  and  her  white-capped  waitresses 
were  just  commencing  their  day's  work  when 
a  couple  of  sturdy  green-aproned  men  swooped 



down  on  the  place  from  a  large  pantechnicon 
van,  and  to  the  amazement  of  the  young  ladies 
commenced  to  clear  the  shop. 

"There  you  are  Bill.  Hand  up  them  chairs,  and 
look  slippy." 

"Right  o',  mate." 

"Good  gracious  me,  what  are  you  men  doing?" 
shrieked  the  alarmed  manageress. 

"Doing,  miss,  doing?  Why  moving  the  furni- 
ture.    This  is  the  lot  ain't  it?" 

"No,  no,  no;  there  must  be  some  mistake.  You 
must  have  come  to  the  wrong  place." 

"Mistake,  wrong  place?  No  miss.  'Ere,  look 
where's  that  letter?"  And  Jack  placed  a  begrimed 
document  before  the  lady. 

The  letter  seemed  right  enough.  It  read  beauti- 
fully, a  plain  direction  to  clear  the  shop  and  remove 
the  stuff  elsewhere;  it  only  lacked  the  official  head- 
ing of  the  company.  But  the  joint  inspection  was 
rudely  broken  in  upon  by  the  arrival  of  a  couple  of 
the  knights  of  the  brush  who  had  come  "to  do  the 
chimbley,  maam" ;  and  ere  they  could  be  disposed  of 
vans  of  coals  began  to  draw  up,  more  pantechni- 
cons, more  sweeps,  loads  of  furniture,  butchers  with 
prime  joints,  plump  birds  from  the  poulterers,  fish 
of  every  conceivable  kind,  noisy  green-grocer  boys, 
staggering  under  huge  loads  of  vegetables ;  florists 
"to  decorate,"  gasfitters,  carpenters  "to  take  down 
the  counter,  miss" ;  others  "to  put  it  up." 

HOAXES  251 

Pandemonium  is  quiet  compared  with  that  shop. 
The  poor  manageress  was  in  tears,  deafened  with 
the  exasperated,  swearing  representatives  of,  ap- 
parently, all  the  tradesmen  for  miles  around.  The 
thing  had  been  well  done.  No  sooner  had  the  pro- 
vision merchants  worked  clear  and  the  streams  of 
vans,  waggons  and  carts  been  backed  away  to  the 
accompaniment  of  much  lurid  language,  than  ladies 
began  to  arrive  with  boxes  of  mysterious  long 
garments  which,  they  assured  the  indignant  lady 
in  charge,  they  were  instructed  were  urgently 
needed  for  an  event  they  referred  to  as  "interest- 
ing." There  was  no  monotony,  for  fast  and  furi- 
ous— very  furious  sometimes — came  other  maidens 
laden  with  more  boxes  and  still  more  boxes,  filled 
with  costumes,  bonnets,  and  other  creations  dear  to 
the  feminine  mind.  Then  came  servants  "in  an- 
swer to  your  advertisement,  madam."  They 
flocked  in  from  all  directions,  north,  south,  east  and 
west.  Never  was  seen  such  a  concourse  of  serv- 
ants: dignified  housekeepers,  housemaids,  parlour- 
maids, and  every  other  sort  of  maid,  seemed  to  be 
making  for  that  unfortunate  manageress.  Sleek- 
looking  butlers  popped  in,  as  uniformed  nurses 
popped  out.  Window-cleaners  had  to  be  torn  from 
the  windows  they  insisted  they  had  got  orders  to 
clean;  carpet  beaters  sought  carpets  which  did  not 
exist.  Never  had  mortal — aye  and  immortal — re- 
quirements been  thought  out  with  more  thoughtful 
care.     From  the  needs  of  the  unborn  baby,  to  the 


"poor  departed  one,"  whom  melancholy  gentlemen 
in  seedy  black  came  to  measure,  all  were  remem- 
bered, and  the  man  for  whose  especial  benefit  pre- 
sumably were  intended  beautiful  wreaths,  crosses, 
harps,  etc.,  which  kept  constantly  arriving. 
Throughout  that  live-long  day  to  the  "dewy  eve" 
beloved  of  the  poet  the  game  went  merrily  on. 

As  a  hoax  the  thing  was  worked  for  all  it  was 
worth.  Not  only  had  shoals  of  letters  evidently 
been  sent  out,  but  advertisements,  too,  had  been 
freely  distributed  among  the  press.  Needless  to 
say  that,  despite  the  closest  investigations,  its 
author  or  authors,  discreetly  silent,  remained  un- 

The  joke  was  not  new  by  any  means.  Well 
nigh  a  century  before  mischief-loving  Theodore 
Hook  had  stirred  all  London  by  a  similar  prank — 
the  famous  Berners  Street  Hoax.  In  those  days 
Berners  Street  was  a  quiet  thoroughfare  inhabited 
by  fairly  well-to-do  families.  Indeed  it  was  this 
very  sedate  quietness  which  drew  upon  it  Hook's 
unwelcome  attention.  Fixing  on  one  of  the  houses, 
which  happened  to  be  adorned  with  a  brass  plate,  he 
made  a  wager  with  a  brother  wag  that  he  would 
cause  that  particular  house  to  become  the  talk  of  the 
town :  and  he  certainly  did — for  not  only  the  town, 
but  all  England  shrieked  with  laughter  when  the  re- 
sult of  his  little  manoeuvre  became  known. 

One  morning,  soon  after  breakfast,  waggons 
laden  with  coals  began  to  draw  up  before  the  house 

HOAXES  253 

with  the  brass  plate,  No.  54.  These  were  quickly 
succeeded  with  tradespeople  by  the  dozen  with  vari- 
ous commodities.  These  in  turn  were  followed  by 
van  loads  of  furniture ;  followed  by  a  hearse  with  a 
coffin  and  a  number  of  mourning  coaches.  Soon 
the  street  became  choked :  for,  what  with  the  goods 
dumped  down  as  near  as  possible  to  the  house — 
pianos,  organs,  and  cart  loads  of  furniture  of  all 
descriptions,  the  anxious  tradesmen,  and  the  laugh- 
ing mob  of  people  quickly  attracted  to  the  scene, 
confusion  reigned  supreme.  About  this  time  the 
Lord  Mayor  and  other  notabilities  began  to  arrive 
in  their  carriages.  His  Lordship's  stay  was  short. 
He  was  driven  to  Marlborough  Street  police  office 
where  he  informed  the  magistrate  that  he  had 
received  a  note  purporting  to  come  from  Mrs.  T., 
the  victimised  widow  resident  at  No.  54,  saying  she 
was  confined  to  her  room  and  begging  his  lordship 
to  do  her  the  favour  of  calling  on  her  on  impor- 
tant business.  Meanwhile,  the  trouble  in  Berners 
Street  was  growing  serious,  and  officers  belonging 
to  the  Marlborough  Street  office  were  at  once  sent 
to  keep  order.  For  a  time  even  they  were  helpless. 
Never  was  such  a  strange  meeting:  barbers  with 
wigs;  mantlemakers  with  band-boxes;  opticians 
with  their  various  articles  of  trade.  Presently 
there  arrived  a  couple  of  fashionable  physicians,  an 
accoucheur,  and  a  dentist.  There  were  clockmak- 
ers,  carpet  manufacturers  and  wine  merchants,  all 
loaded  with  specimens  of  their  trade;  brewers  with 


barrels  of  ale,  curiosity  dealers  with  sundry  knick- 
knacks;  cartloads  of  potatoes;  books,  prints,  jew- 
ellery, feathers  and  furbelows  of  all  kinds ;  ices  and 
jellies;  conjuring  tricks;  never  was  such  a  conglom- 
eration. Then,  about  five  o'clock  servants  of  all 
kinds  began  to  troop  in  to  apply  for  situations. 
For  a  time  the  police  officers  were  powerless. 
Vehicles  were  jammed  and  interlocked;  the  exas- 
perated drivers  were  swearing,  and  the  disap- 
pointed tradesmen  were  maddened  by  the  malicious 
fun  of  the  crowd  who  were  enjoying  the  joke. 
Some  of  the  vans  were  overturned  and  many  of  the 
tradesmens'  goods  came  to  grief ;  while  some  of  the 
casks  of  ale  became  the  prey  of  the  delighted  spec- 
tators. All  through  the  day  and  late  into  the  night 
this  extraordinary  state  of  things  continued,  to  the 
dismay  and  terror  of  the  poor  lady  and  the  other  in- 
mates of  the  house  with  the  brass  plate. 

Theodore  Hook  had  taken  precautions  to  secure 
a  good  seat  for  the  performance,  having  taken  fur- 
nished-apartments just  opposite  the  house  of  his 
victim,  where  he  posted  himself  with  one  or  two 
companions  to  enjoy  the  scene.  Hook's  connection 
with  the  mad  joke  was,  fortunately  for  him,  not 
known  until  long  afterwards;  it  seems  he  had  de- 
voted three  or  four  whole  days  to  writing  the  let- 
ters, all  couched  in  ladylike  style.  In  the  end  the 
novelist  seems  to  have  been  rather  frightened  at 
the  result  of  his  little  joke,  for  he  made  a  speedy 
departure  to  the  country;  and  there  is  no  doubt 

HOAXES  255 

that,  had  he  been  publicly  known  as  its  author,  he 
would  have  fared  badly. 

B.      THE  CAT  HOAX 

One  very  amusing  variation  of  the  countless 
imitations,  which  the  success  of  this  trick  gave 
rise  to,  was  the  "cat  hoax"  at  Chester,  in  August, 
1815.  It  was  at  the  time  when  it  had  been 
determined  to  send  Napoleon  to  St.  Helena. 
One  morning,  a  number  of  hand  bills  were  dis- 
tributed in  and  around  Chester,  stating  that,  owing 
to  the  island  of  St.  Helena  being  invested  with  rats, 
the  government  required  a  number  of  cats  for  de- 
portation. Sixteen  shillings  were  offered  for 
"every  athletic  full-grown  torn  cat,  ten  shillings  for 
every  adult  female  puss,  and  a  half-crown  for 
every  thriving  kitten  that  could  swill  milk,  pursue 
a  ball  of  thread,  or  fasten  its  young  fangs  in  a 
dying  mouse."  An  address  was  given  at  which 
the  cats  were  to  be  delivered;  but  it  proved  to  be 
an  empty  house.  The  advertisement  resulted  in 
the  victimisation  of  hundreds  of  people.  Men, 
women,  and  children  streamed  into  the  city  from 
miles  around  laden  with  cats  of  every  description. 
Some  hundreds  were  brought  in,  and  the  scene  be- 
fore the  door  of  the  empty  house  is  said  to  have 
baffled  description.  When  the  hoax  was  discov- 
ered many  of  the  cats  were  liberated ;  the  following 
morning  no  less  than  five  hundred  dead  cats  were 
counted  floating  down  the  river  Dee. 



Practical  jokes  of  this  nature  have  more  than 
once  led  to  serious  results.  In  the  summer  of 
1812  a  report  was  extensively  circulated  that 
a  grand  military  review  was  to  be  held  on  the 
19th  of  June.  Booths  were  erected  and  as  many 
as  twenty  thousand  people  assembled,  despite 
the  efforts  of  the  authorities  who,  when  they 
learned  what  was  happening,  posted  men  in  the 
several  roads  leading  to  the  heath  to  warn  the  peo- 
ple that  they  had  been  hoaxed.  But  their  efforts 
were  useless.  The  rumour  was  believed  and  the 
contradiction  ignored;  vehicles,  horsemen  and 
pedestrians  pushed  on  to  their  destination.  When, 
however,  the  day  wore  on  without  any  appearance 
of  the  promised  military  pageant,  the  crowd  grew 
angry  and  then  broke  out  in  acts  of  violence.  The 
heath  was  set  on  fire.  Messengers  were  sent  off 
express  to  London,  and  a  detachment  of  the  guards 
had  to  be  marched  down  to  quell  the  mob.  In  the 
disorder  one  poor  woman  was  thrown  out  of  a  chaise 
and  picked  up  in  an  unconscious  condition. 


Many  distinguished  actors  have  been  very 
fond  of  playing  practical  jokes  and  perpetra- 
ting hoaxes.  Young,  the  tragedian,  was  one 
day  driving  in  a  gig  with  a  friend  on  the  out- 
skirts  of   London.     Pulling   up    at   a   turn-pike 

HOAXES  257 

gate  he  noticed  the  name  of  the  toll-collector 
written  up  over  the  door.  Calling  to  him  the 
woman,  the  wife  of  that  functionary,  who  appeared 
to  be  in  charge  of  the  gate,  he  politely  told  her  that 

he  particularly  wished  to  see  Mr. ,  naming  the 

toll-collector,   on  a   matter   of   importance.     Im- 
pressed by  Young's  manner,  she  promptly  sent  for 
her  husband,  who  was  working  in  a  neighbouring 
field.     Hastily  washing  himself  and  putting  on  a    £>*A  «- 
clean  coat  he  presented  himself.     The  actor  gravely  Ja^aaJlm 
said:  "I  paid  for  a  ticket  at  the  last  gate,  and  was       ®i 
told  that  it  would  free  me  through  this  one.     As  I 
wish  to  be  scrupulously  exact,  will  you  kindly  tell       #<Ai" 
me  whether  such  is  the  case?"     "Why  of  course  it  ^ 

is?"     "Can  I  then  pass  through  without  paying?"        -%%£, 
The  toll-collector's  reply  and  his  vituperation  as 
the  travellers  passed  on  had  better,  perhaps,  be  left 
to  the  imagination. 


Hoaxes  are  sometimes  malicious,  and  often 
cruel,  as  the  following  instance  will  show:  A 
young  couple  were  about  to  be  married  in 
Birmingham  when  those  officiating — it  was  a 
Jewish  wedding — were  startled  by  the  delivery 
of  a  telegram  from  London  with  the  message: 
"Stop  marriage  at  once.  His  wife  and  children 
have  arrived  in  London  and  will  come  on  to  Bir- 
mingham." The  bride  fainted  and  the  bridegroom 
was  frantically  perturbed  at  thus  summarily  being 


provided  with  a  wife  and  family.  But  it  was  use- 
less ;  the  unhappy  man  had  to  make  the  best  of  his 
way  through  an  exasperated  crowd  full  of  sym- 
pathy for  the  wronged  girl.  Inquiry,  however, 
showed  her  friends  that  the  whole  thing  was  a  hoax 
— possibly  worked  by  some  revengeful  rival  of  the 
man  whose  happiness  had  been  so  unexpectedly 


Most  people  have  heard  of  the  "Spanish  Treas- 
ure swindle"  and,  though  less  elaborate  than  the 
original,  a  variation  of  it  practised  on  a  French 
merchant  was  rather  "cute."  One  morning  he 
received  an  anonymous  communication  advising 
him  that  a  box  of  treasure  was  buried  in  his 
garden  the  exact  position  of  which  would  be 
pointed  out  to  him,  if  he  agreed  to  divide  the 
spoil.  He  rose  at  once  to  the  bait,  met  his 
generous  informant,  and  before  long  the  pair  were 
merrily  at  work  with  pickaxe  and  shovel.  Sure 
enough  before  long  their  exertions  were  awarded 
by  the  unearthing  of  a  box  full  of  silver  coins. 
The  hoard  proved  to  consist  of  sixteen  hundred 
five-franc  pieces ;  and  the  delighted  merchant,  after 
carefully  counting  them  out  into  two  piles,  offered 
one  lot  to  his  partner  as  his  share.  That  worthy, 
after  contemplating  the  heap  for  a  minute  or  two, 
observed  that  it  would  be  rather  a  heavy  load  to 
carry  to  the  railway  station,  and  said  he  would  pre- 

HOAXES  259 

fer,  if  it  could  be  managed,  to  have  the  amount  in 
gold  or  notes.  "Certainly,  certainly!"  was  the 
reply.  The  two  men  walked  up  to  the  house  and 
the  business  was  settled  to  their  mutual  satisfac- 
tion. Twenty-four  hours  later,  the  merchant  took 
a  very  different  view  of  the  transaction ;  for  exami- 
nation discovered  there  was  not  one  genuine  five- 
franc  piece  among  the  whole  lot. 

G.      DEAN    SWIFT'S    HOAX 

One  of  the  most  beautiful  hoaxes  ever  per- 
petrated was  one  for  which  Swift  was  responsible. 
He  caused  a  broad-sheet  to  be  printed  and  cir- 
culated which  purported  to  be  the  "last  dying 
speech"  of  one  Elliston,  a  street  robber,  in 
which  the  condemned  thief  was  made  to  say: 
"Now  as  I  am  a  dying  man,  I  have  done  some- 
thing which  may  be  of  use  to  the  public.  I  have 
left  with  an  honest  man — the  only  honest  man  I 
was  ever  acquainted  with — the  names  of  all  my 
wicked  brethren,  the  places  of  their  abode,  with  a 
short  account  of  the  chief  crimes  they  have  commit- 
ted, in  many  of  which  I  have  been  their  accomplice, 
and  heard  the  rest  from  their  own  mouths.  I  have 
likewise  set  down  names  of  those  we  call  our  setters, 
of  the  wicked  houses  we  frequent,  and  all  of  those 
who  receive  and  buy  our  stolen  goods.  I  have 
solemnly  charged  this  honest  man,  and  have  received 
his  promise  upon  oath,  that  whenever  he  hears  of 
any  rogue  to  be  tried  for  robbery  or  housebreaking, 


he  will  look  into  his  list,  and  if  he  finds  the  name 
there  of  the  thief  concerned,  to  send  the  whole  paper 
to  the  Government.  Of  this  I  here  give  my  com- 
panions fair  and  public  warning,  and  hope  they  will 
take  it."  So  successful,  we  are  told,  was  the  Dean's 
ruse  that,  for  many  years  afterwards,  street  rob- 
beries were  almost  unknown. 


The  above  ingenious  device  recalls  another 
occasion  when  some  gentlemen  who  made  bur- 
glary their  profession,  and  who  had  been  pay- 
ing a  midnight  visit  to  the  house  of  a  Hull 
tradesman  were  sadly  "sold."  They  found  the 
cash-box  lying  handy,  and,  to  their  delight,  weighty ; 
so  heavy  indeed  that  they  did  not  stay  to  help  them- 
selves to  anything  further.  Next  morning  the 
cash-box  was  found  not  far  from  the  shop  and  its 
contents  in  an  ash-pit  close  by.  After  all  the 
trouble  they  had  taken,  to  say  nothing  of  the  risks 
they  had  run,  the  burglars  found  their  prize  con- 
sisted only  of  a  lump  of  lead,  and  that  their  intended 
victim  had  been  too  artful  for  them. 


As  an  example  of  how  a  dishonest  penny  may 
be  turned  the  following  incident  would  be  hard  to 

Two  wear}'-  porters  at  the  King's  Cross  terminus 
of  the   Great   Northern   Railway   were   thinking 

HOAXES  261 

about  going  home,  when  a  breathless,  simple-look- 
ing countryman  rushed  up  to  them  with  anxious 
enquiries  for  a  certain  train.     It  had  gone.     He 
was  crushed.     "Whatever  was  he  to  do?     He  had 
been  sent  up  from  Cambridge  with  a  big  hamper 
of  those  sausages  for  which  the  University  town  is 
celebrated — a  very  special  order.     Was  there  no 
other   train?"     "No."     The    poor    fellow    seemed 
overwhelmed.     "As  it  is  too  late  to  find  another 
market,"  he  complained,  "the  whole  lot  will  be  lost." 
Then  a  happy  thought  seemed  to  strike  him  as  more 
of  the  railway  men  gathered  round,  and  he  inquired 
ingratiatingly,  "Would  you  care  to  buy  the  sau- 
sages ;  if  you  would,  you  could  have  them  for  four- 
pence  a  pound?     If  I  keep  them,  they  will  prob- 
ably go  bad  before  I  can  dispose  of  them."     The 
idea  took — "Real  Cambridge  Sausages"  at  four- 
pence  a  pound  was  not  to  be  sneezed  at.     The 
dainties,  neatly  packed  in  pounds,  went  like  the 
proverbial    hot    cakes.     Shouldering    the    empty 
basket,  and  bidding  his  customers  a  kindly  good- 
night, the  yokel  set  off  to  find  a  humble  lodging 
for  the  night.     Grateful  smiles  greeted  the  pur- 
chasers when  they  got  home.     Frying  pans  were 
got  out  and  the  sausages  were  popped  in,  and  never 
was  such  a  sizzling  heard  in  the  railway  houses — or 
rather  never  should  such  a  sizzling  have  been  heard. 
But  somehow  they  didn't  sizzle.     "They  are  uncom- 
mon dry ;  seem  to  have  no  fat  in  'em,"  said  the  puz- 
zled cook.     They  Mere  dry,  very  dry,  for  closer 


investigation  showed  that  the  "prime  Cambridge" 
were  nothing  but  skins  stuffed  with  dry  bread! 
The  railway  staff  of  King's  Cross  were  long  anx- 
ious to  meet  that  simple  countryman  from  Cam- 

J.      THE   MOON   HOAX 

One  of  the  most  stupendous  hoaxes,  and  one 
foisted  on  the  credulity  of  the  public  with  the 
most  complete  success,  was  the  famous  Moon 
Hoax  which  was  published  in  the  pages  of 
the  New  York  Sun  in  1835.  It  purported  to  be 
an  account  of  the  great  astronomical  discoveries  of 
Sir  John  Herschel  at  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope, 
through  the  medium  of  a  mighty  telescope,  a  single 
lens  of  which  weighed  nearly  seven  tons.  It  was 
stated  to  be  reproduced  from  the  Supplement  to 
the  Edinburgh  Journal  of  Science,  though  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  the  Journal  had  then  been  defunct 
some  years.  In  graphic  language,  and  with  a 
wealth  of  picturesque  detail,  the  wonders  of  the 
Moon  as  revealed  to  the  great  astronomer  and  his 
assistants  were  set  forth.  A  great  inland  sea  was 
observed,  and  "fairer  shores  never  angel  coasted  on 
a  tour  of  pleasure."  The  beach  was  "of  brilliant 
white  sand,  girt  with  wild  castellated  rocks  appar- 
ently of  green  marble,  varied  at  chasms,  occurring 
every  two  hundred  feet,  with  grotesque  blocks  of 
chalk  or  gypsum,  and  feathered  and  festooned  at 
the  summit  with  the  clustering  foliage  of  unknown 

HOAXES  263 

trees."  There  were  hills  of  amethysts  "of  a  diluted 
claret  colour";  mountains  fringed  with  virgin  gold; 
herds  of  brown  quadrupeds  resembling  diminutive 
bison  fitted  with  a  sort  of  "hairy  veil"  to  protect 
their  eyes  from  the  extremes  of  light  and  darkness ; 
strange  monsters — a  combination  of  unicorn  and 
goat;  pelicans,  cranes,  strange  amphibious  crea- 
tures, and  a  remarkable  biped  beaver.  The  last 
was  said  to  resemble  the  beaver  of  the  earth  ex- 
cepting that  it  had  no  tail  and  walked  only  upon 
its  two  feet.  It  carried  its  young  in  its  arms  like 
a  human-being,  and  its  huts  were  constructed  better 
and  higher  than  those  of  many  savage  tribes;  and, 
from  the  smoke,  there  was  no  doubt  it  was 
acquainted  with  the  use  of  fire.  Another  remark- 
able animal  observed,  was  described  as  having  an 
amazingly  long  neck,  a  head  like  a  sheep,  bearing 
two  spiral  horns,  a  body  like  a  deer,  but  with  its 
fore-legs  disproportionately  long  as  also  its  tail 
which  was  very  bushy  and  of  a  snowy  whiteness, 
curling  high  over  its  rump  and  hanging  two  or 
three  feet  by  its  side. 

But  even  these  marvels  fade  into  insignificance 
compared  with  the  discovery  of  the  lunarian  men 
"four  feet  in  height,  covered,  except  on  the  face, 
with  short  and  glossy  copper-coloured  hair,  with 
wings  composed  of  a  thin  membrane."  "In  gen- 
eral symmetry  they  were  infinitely  superior  to  the 
orang-outang" — which  statement  could  hardly  have 
been  regarded  as  complimentary;  and,  though  de- 


scribed  as  "doubtless  innocent  and  happy  creatures," 
the  praise  was  rather  discounted  by  the  mention 
that  some  of  their  amusements  would  "but  ill  com- 
port with  our  terrestrial  notions  of  decorum."  In 
the  "Vale  of  the  Triads,"  with  beautiful  temples 
built  of  polished  sapphire,  a  superior  race  of  the 
punariant  were  found,  "eminently  happy  and  even 
polite,"  eating  gourds  and  red  cucumbers;  and  fur- 
ther afield  yet  another  race  of  the  vespertilio-homo, 
or  man-bat,  were  seen  through  the  wonderful  tele- 
scope of  "infinitely  greater  personal  beauty  .  .  . 
scarcely  less  lovely  than  the  general  representation 
of  angels." 

Such  were  a  few  of  the  marvels  told  of  in  the 
Moon  story;  and,  though  one  may  laugh  at  them 
as  they  stand,  shorn  of  their  clever  verbiage  and 
quasi-scientific  detail,  at  the  time  of  publication  they 
were  seriously  accepted,  for  the  popular  mind,  even 
among  the  educated  classes,  was  then  imbued  with 
the  fanciful  anticipators  of  vast  lunar  discoveries 
heralded  in  the  astronomical  writings  of  Thomas 
Dick,  LL.D.,  of  the  Union  College  of  New  York. 
Scarcely  anything  could  have  been  brought  forward 
too  extravagant  for  the  general  credulity  on  the 
subject  then  prevailing;  and  this  well-timed  satire, 
"out-heroding  Herod"  in  its  imaginative  creations, 
supplied  to  satiety  the  morbid  appetite  for  scien- 
tific wonders  then  raging.  >By  its  plausible  display 
of  scientific  erudition  it  successfully  duped,  with 
few  exceptions,  the  whole  civilised  world. 

HOAXES  265 

At  the  time,  the  hoax  was  very  generally  attrib- 
uted to  a  French  astronomer,  M.  Nicollet,  a  legit- 
imist who  fled  to  America  in  1830.  He  was  said  to 
have  written  it  with  the  twofold  object  of  raising 
the  wind,  and  of  "taking  in"  Arago,  a  rival  astron- 
omer. But  its  real  author  was  subsequently  found 
to  be  Richard  Adams  Locke,  who  declared  that  his 
original  intention  was  to  satirise  the  extravagances 
of  Dick's  writings,  and  to  make  certain  sugges- 
tions which  he  had  some  diffidence  in  putting  for- 
ward seriously.  Whatever  may  have  been  his 
object,  the  work,  as  a  hit,  was  unrivalled.  For 
months  the  press  of  America  and  Europe  teemed 
with  the  subject;  the  account  was  printed  and  pub- 
lished in  many  languages  and  superbly  illustrated. 
But,  finally,  Sir  John  Herschel's  signed  denial  gave 
the  mad  story  its  quietus. 



IN  all  the  range  of  doubtful  personalities  there 
is  hardly  any  one  whom  convention  has  treated 
worse  than  it  has  the  individual  known  in  his 
time — and  after — as  The  Chevalier  d'Eon.  For 
about  a  hundred  and  fifty  years  he  has  been  written 
of — and  spoken  of  for  the  first  half  century  of 
that  time — simply  as  a  man  who  masqueraded  in 
woman's  clothes.  There  seems  to  be  just  sufficient 
truth  in  this  to  save  certain  writers  on  the  subject 
from  the  charge  of  deliberate  lying — a  record  which, 
even  if  it  is  to  be  posthumous,  no  man  of  integrity 
aims  at;  but  it  is  abundantly  evident  that  the 
rumour,  which  in  time  became  a  charge,  was  orig- 
inally set  on  foot  deliberately  by  his  political  ene- 
mies, who  treated  him  and  his  memory  without  either 
consideration  or  even  the  elements  of  honourable 
truth.  To  begin  with,  here  are  the  facts  of  his 
long  life. 

Charles- Genevieve  —  Louis-Auguste-Andre  — 
Timothee  d'Eon  de  Beaumont  was  born  in  1728 
in  Tonnerre  in  Yonne,  a  department  of  France  in 
the  old  province  of  Burgundy.  His  father,  Louis 
d'Eon,  was  a  parliamentary  barrister.  As  a  youth 
he  was  so  apt  in  his  studies  at  the  College  Mazarin 
that  he  received  by  special  privilege  his  degree  of 



Doctor  in  Canon  and  Civil  Law  before  the  age 
appointed  for  the  conferring  of  such  honour,  and 
was  then  enrolled  in  the  list  of  parliamentary  bar- 
risters in  Paris.  At  first  he  had  been  uncertain 
which  department  of  life  he  should  undertake.  He 
swayed  on  one  side  towards  the  church,  on  the  other 
towards  the  world  of  letters  and  beaux-arts.  He 
was  by  habit  an  athlete,  and  was  so  good  a  swords- 
man that  later  on  he  had  no  rival  in  fencing  except 
the  Chevalier  de  Saint-George.  In  his  twenty- 
fifth  year  he  published  two  remarkable  books.  One 
was  on  the  political  administration  of  ancient  and 
modern  people,  and  the  other  on  Phases  of  Finance 
in  France  at  different  times.  ( The  latter  was  aft- 
erwards published  in  German  at  Berlin  in  1774,  and 
so  impressed  the  then  King  of  Prussia  that  he  gave 
orders  that  its  ideas  were  to  be  carried  into  prac- 
tical effect.) 

In  1755  the  Prince  de  Conti,  to  whose  notice  the 
Chevalier  had  been  brought  by  the  above  books, 
asked  the  king  (Louis  XV)  to  send  him  to  Russia 
on  a  secret  mission  with  the  Chevalier  Douglas; 
and  from  that  time  till  the  king's  death  in  1774  he 
was  his  trusted,  loyal  agent  and  correspondent. 
D 'Eon's  special  mission  was  to  bring  the  courts 
of  France  and  Rusisa  closer  than  had  been  their 
wont,  and  also  to  obtain  for  the  Prince  de  Conti, 
who  was  seeking  the  Dukedom  of  Finland  and  the 
Kingship  of  Poland,  the  favour  of  the  Empress 
Elizabeth — a  difficult  task,  which  had  already  cost 



M.  de  Valcroissant  a  spell  of  imprisonment.  In 
order  to  accomplish  his  mission,  d'Eon  disguised 
himself  as  a  woman,  and  in  this  guise  he  was  able 
to  creep  into  the  good  graces  of  the  Empress.  He 
became  her  "reader"  and  was  thus  enabled  to  pre- 
pare her  for  the  reception  of  the  secret  purposes  of 
his  king.  In  the  following  year  he  returned  to 
France  whence  he  was  immediately  sent  again  to 
St.  Petersburg  with  the  title  of  Secretary  of  Em- 
bassy. But  this  time  he  went  in  his  man's  clothes 
and  as  the  brother  of  the  pretended  female  reader. 
By  this  time  he  had  been  made  a  lieutenant  of 
dragoons.  He  came  in  spite  of  the  Russian  Chan- 
cellor Bestuchef,  who  saw  in  the  young  soldier- 
diplomat  "un  subject  dangereux  et  capable  de 
boulverser  Vempire."  This  time  his  real  mission 
was  to  destroy  in  the  mind  of  the  Empress  faith 
in  Bestuchef,  who  was  trying  to  hold  the  Russian 
army  inactive  and  so  deprive  France  of  the  advan- 
tages of  the  Treaty  of  Versailles.  This  he  did  so 
well  that  he  was  in  a  position  to  prove  to  the  Em- 
press that  her  chancellor  had  betrayed  her  interests. 
Bestuchef  was  arrested  and  his  post  conferred  on 
Count  Woronzow,  whose  attitude  was  altogether 
favourable  to  France.  The  gratitude  of  King 
Louis  was  shewn  by  his  making  d'Eon  a  captain 
of  dragoons  and  conferring  on  him  a  pension  of  . 
2400  livres ;  he  was  also  made  censor  of  history  and 
literature.  D'Eon  threw  himself  with  his  accus- 
tomed zeal  into  the  service  of  the  army  and  distin- 


guished  himself  by  his  courage  in  the  battles  of 
Hoecht ;  of  Ultrop,  where  he  was  wounded ;  of  Eim- 
bech  where  he  put  the  Scotch  to  flight;  and  of  Os- 
terkirk,  where  at  the  head  of  80  dragoons  and  20 
hussars  he  overthrew  a  battalion  of  the  enemy. 

No  better  conventional  proof  of  the  accepted  idea 
of  d'Eon's  military  worthiness  can  be  given  than 
the  frequency  and  importance  of  the  occasions  on 
which  he  was  honoured  by  the  carrying  of  des- 
patches. He  brought  news  of  his  successful  nego- 
tiations for  the  peace  of  Versailles  from  Vienna  in 
1757.  He  was  also  sent  with  the  Ratification  of 
the  Treaty.  He  carried  the  despatches  of  the  great 
victory  of  the  troops  of  Maria  Theresa,  forestalling 
the  Austrian  courier  by  a  day  and  a  half,  although 
he  had  a  broken  leg. 

When  next  sent  to  Russia,  d'Eon  was  sent  as 
minister  plenipotentiary,  an  office  which  he  held  up 
to  1762  when  to  the  regret  of  the  Empress  he  was 
recalled.  When  he  was  leaving,  Woronzow,  the 
successor  of  Bestuchef,  said  to  him,  "I  am  sorry 
you  are  going,  although  your  first  journey  with 
Chevalier  Douglas  cost  my  sovereign  250,000  men 
and  more  than  5,000,000  roubles."  D'Eon  an- 
swered: "Your  excellency  ought  to  be  happy  that 
your  sovereign  and  his  minister  have  gained  more 
glory  and  reputation  than  any  others  in  the  world." 
On  his  return  d'Eon  was  appointed  to  the  regi- 
ment d'Autchamp  and  gazetted  as  adjutant  to 
Marshal  de  Broglie.     Then  he  was  sent  to  Russia 

THE  CHEVALIER  D'EON         273 

for  the  fourth  time  as  minister  plenipotentiary  in 
place  of  Baron  de  Breuteuil.  But  Peter  III  was 
dethroned,  so  the  out-going  Ambassador  remained 
in  Russia,  and  d'Eon  went  to  England  as  secretary 
to  the  Embassy  of  the  Duke  de  Nivernais  in  1762. 

After  the  Peace  of  1763  d'Eon  was  chosen  by  the 
King  of  England  to  carry  the  despatches.  He  re- 
ceived for  this  office  the  Star  of  St.  Louis  from 
the  breast  of  the  king,  who  on  giving  it  said  it  was 
for  the  bravery  which  he  had  displayed  as  a  soldier, 
and  for  the  intelligence  which  he  had  shown  in  the 
negotiations  between  London  and  St.  Petersburg. 

At  this  time  all  went  well  with  him.  But  his 
good  fortune  was  changed  by  the  bitter  intrigues  of 
his  enemies.  He  was  devoted  to  the  king,  but  had, 
almost  as  a  direct  consequence,  the  enmity  of  the 
courtesans  who  surrounded  him  and  wished  for  the 
opportunity  of  plucking  him  at  their  leisure.  He 
had  an  astonishing  knowledge  on  all  matters  of 
finance,  and  apprised  the  king  privately  of  secret 
matters  which  his  ministers  tried  to  hide  from  him. 
The  Court  had  wind  of  that  direct  correspondence 
with  his  majesty  and  therewith  things  were  so  man- 
aged that  the  diplomatist  got  into  trouble. 
Madame  de  Pompadour  surprised  the  direct  cor- 
respondence between  the  king  and  d'Eon,  with  the 
result  that  the  latter  was  persecuted  by  the  jealous 
courtiers  who  intrigued,  until  in  1765  he  was 
replaced  at  the  Embassy  of  London  by  the 
Count  de   Guerchy  and  he  himself  became   the 


mark  for  all  sorts  of  vexations  and  persecutions. 
His  deadly  enemy,  the  Count  de  Guerchy,  tried 
to  have  him  poisoned,  but  the  attempt  failed. 
D'Eon  took  legal  steps  to  punish  the  attempt; 
but  every  form  of  pressure  was  used  to  keep  the 
case  out  of  Court.  An  attempt  was  made  to 
get  the  Attorney  General  to  enter  a  nolle 
prosequi;  but  he  refused  to  lend  himself  to 
the  scheme,  and  sent  the  matter  to  the  Court 
of  King's  Bench.  There,  despite  all  the  difficulties 
of  furthering  such  a  charge  against  any  one  so  pro- 
tected as  an  ambassador,  it  was  declared  on  trial 
that  the  accused  was  guilty  of  the  crime  charged 
against  him.  De  Guerchy  accordingly  had  to  re- 
turn to  France;  but  d'Eon  remained  in  England, 
though  without  employment.  To  console  him  King 
Louis  gave  him  in  1766  a  pension  of  12,000  livres, 
and  assured  him  that  though  he  was  ostensibly  ex- 
iled this  was  done  to  cover  up  the  protection 
extended  to  him.  D'Eon,  according  to  the  report 
of  the  time,  was  offered  a  bribe  of  1,200,000  livres, 
to  give  up  certain  state  papers  then  in  his  custody; 
but  to  his  honour  he  refused.  Be  the  story  as  it 
may,  d'Eon  up  to  the  time  of  the  death  of  Louis 
(1774)  continued  to  be  in  London  the  real  repre- 
sentative of  France,  though  without  any  formal 

During  this  time  one  of  the  means  employed  with 
success  by  his  enemies  to  injure  the  reputation  of 
d'Eon,  was  to  point  out  that  he  had  passed  himself 


as  a  woman;  the  disguise  he  wore  on  his  first  visit 
to  Russia.     His  clean  shaven  face,  his  personal 
niceties,  the  correctness  of  his  life,  all  came  to  the 
aid  of  that  supposition.     In  England  bets  were 
made  and  sporting  companies  formed  for  the  pur- 
pose of  verifying  his  sex.     Designs  were  framed 
for  the  purpose  of  carrying  him  off  in  order  to 
settle  the  vexed  question  by  a  personal  examination. 
Some  of  the  efforts  he  had  to  repel  by  violence. 
In  1770  and  in  1772  his  friends  tried  to  arrange 
that  he  should  be  allowed  to  return  to  France;  but 
he  refused  all  offers  as  the  Ministers  insisted  on 
making  it  a  condition  of  his  return  that  he  should 
wear   feminine   apparel.     After   the   accession   of 
Louis  XVI  he  obtained  leave  to  return,  free  from 
the  embarrassing  restraint  hitherto  demanded.     As 
he  was   overwhelmed  with   debts  he  placed  as  a 
guarantee  in  the  hands  of  Lord  Ferrers  an  iron 
casket  containing  important  French  state  papers. 
The  minister  sent  Beaumarcheus  to  redeem  them, 
and  in  1771  the  Chevalier  returned  to  France.     He 
presented  himself  at  Versailles  in  his  full  uniform 
of   a  captain   of   dragoons.     The   Queen    (Marie 
Antoinette)  however,  wished  to  see  him  presented 
in  female  dress;  so  the  Minister  implored  him  to 
meet  her  wishes.     He  consented ;  and  thenceforward 
not  only  wore  women's  clothes  but  called  himself 
"La  Chevaliere  d'Eon."     In  a  letter  addressed  by 
him  to  Madame  de  Stael  during  the  French  revo- 
lution he  spoke  of  himself  as  "citizeness  of  the  New 


Republic  of  France,  and  of  the  old  Republic  of 
Literature."  On  2nd  September,  1777  he  wrote 
to  the  Count  de  Maurepas,  "Although  I  detest 
changes  of  costume,  yet  they  are  hard  at  work  at 
Mademoiselle  Bertin's  on  my  future  and  doleful 
dress,  which  however  I  shall  cut  in  pieces  at  the  first 
sound  of  the  cannon  shots."  As  a  matter  of  fact 
when  war  with  England  became  imminent  he  de- 
manded to  be  allowed  to  take  in  the  army  the  posi- 
tion which  he  had  won  by  bravery  and  as  the  price 
of  honourable  wounds.  The  only  reply  he  got  was 
his  immurement  for  two  months  in  the  Castle  of 
Dijon.  In  1784  he  returned  to  England,  which  he 
never  again  left.  In  vain  he  appealed  to  the  Con- 
vention and  then  to  the  First  Consul  to  be  allowed 
to  place  his  sword  at  the  service  of  his  country;  but 
his  prayer  was  not  listened  to.  Used  to  the  practice 
of  the  sword,  his  circumstances  being  desperate,  he 
then  found  in  it  a  source  of  income.  He  gave  in 
public,  assaults-at-arms  with  the  Chevalier  de  Saint- 
George,  one  of  the  most  notable  fencers  of  his  time. 
At  length  he  was  given  a  small  pension,  £40,  by 
George  III,  on  which  he  subsisted  during  the  re- 
mainder of  his  life.     He  died  23rd  May,  1810. 

In  very  fact  Chevalier  d'Eon  is  historically  a 
much  injured  man.  His  vocation  was  that  of  a 
secret-service  agent  of  a  nation  surrounded  with 
enemies,  and  to  her  advantage  he  used  his  rare  pow- 
ers of  mind  and  body.  He  was  a  very  gallant 
soldier,  who  won  distinction  in  the  field  and  was 

THE  CHEVALIER  D'EON         277 

wounded  several  times;  and  in  his  endurance  and 
his  indifference  to  pain  whilst  carrying  despatches 
of  overwhelming  importance  he  set  an  example  that 
any  soldier  might  follow  with  renown.     As  a  states- 
man and  diplomatist,  and  by  the  use  of  his  faculties 
of  inductive  ratiocination,  he  averted  great  dangers 
from  his  country.     If  there  were  nothing  else  to  his 
credit  he  might  well  stand  forth  as  a  diplomatist 
who  had  by  his  own  exertions  overthrown  a  dis- 
honest Russian  Chancellor  and  an  unscrupulous 
French  Ambassador.     Of  course,   as  he  was   an 
agent  of  secret  service,  he  had  cognisance  of  much 
political  and  international  scheming  which  he  had 
at  times  to  frustrate  at  the  risk  of  all  which  he  held 
dear.     But,  considering  the  time  he  lived  in,  and 
the  dangers  which  he  was  always  in  the  thick  of, 
in  a  survey  of  his  life  the  only  thing  a  reader  can 
find  fault  with  is  his  yielding  to  the  base  idea  of 
the  flighty-minded  Marie  Antoinette.     What,  to 
this  irresponsible  butterfly  of  fashion,  was  the  hon- 
our of  a  brave  soldier  or  the  reputation  of  an  acute 
diplomatist  who  had  deserved  well  of  his  country. 
Of  course  to  her  any  such  foolery  as  that  to  which 
she  condemned  d'Eon  was  but  the  fancy  of  an  idle 
moment.     But  then  the  fancies  of  queens  at  idle 
moments  may  be  altogether  destructive  to  someone. 
That  they  may  be  destructive  to  themselves  is  shown 
in  the  record  of  the  terrible  atrocities  of  the  Revo- 
lution which  followed  hard  on  the  luxurious  mas- 
querades of  Trianon  and  Versailles.     Even  to  the 


Queen  of  France,  the  Chevalier  d'Eon  should  have 
been  something  of  a  guarded,  if  not  an  honoured, 
person.  He  was  altogether  a  "king's  man."  He 
had  been  for  many  years  the  trusted  and  loyal  serv- 
ant of  more  than  one  king;  and  from  the  king's 
immediate  circle  the  proper  consideration  should 
have  been  shown. 

There  is  something  pitiful  in  the  spectacle  of  this 
old  gentleman  of  nearly  eighty  years  of  age,  who 
had  in  his  time  done  so  much,  being  compelled  to 
earn  a  bare  livelihood  by  the  exploitation  of  the 
most  sordid  page  in  his  history — a  page  turned  more 
than  half  a  century  before,  and  then  only  turned 
at  all  in  response  to  the  call  of  public  duty. 

In  his  retirement  d'Eon  showed  more  of  his  real 
nature  than  had  been  possible  to  him  in  the  stren- 
uous days  when  he  had  to  be  always  vigilant  and 
ready  at  an  instant's  notice  to  conceal  his  intentions 
— his  very  thoughts.  Here  he  showed  a  sensitive- 
ness with  which  even  his  friends  did  not  credit  him. 
He  had  been  so  long  silent  as  to  matters  of  his  own 
concern  that  they  had  begun  to  think  he  had  lost 
the  faculty  not  only  of  making  the  thought  known, 
but  even  of  the  thought  itself.  The  following 
paragraph  from  the  London  Public  Advertiser  of 
Wednesday,  16th  November,  1774,  shows  more  of 
the  real  man  than  may  be  found  in  any  of  his 
business  letters  or  diplomatic  reports: — 

"The  Chevalier  d'Eon  with  justice  complains  of 
our  public  prints;  they  are  eternally  sending  him  to 


France  while  he  is  in  body  and  soul  fixed  in  this 
country;  they  have  lately  confined  him  in  the  Bas- 
tille, when  he  fled  to  England  as  a  country  of 
liberty;  and  they  lately  made  a  Woman  of  him, 
when  not  one  of  his  enemies  dared  to  put  his  man- 
hood to  the  proof.  He  makes  no  complaints  of 
the  English  Ladies." 

In  an  issue  of  the  same  paper  9th  November, 
of  the  same  year,  it  is  mentioned  that  the  lit.  Hon. 
Lord  Ferrars,  Sir  John  Fielding,  Messrs.  Adding- 
ton,  Wright  and  other  worthy  magistrates  and 
gentlemen  and  their  ladies  did  the  Chevalier  d'Eon 
the  honour  to  dine  with  him  in  Brewer  St.,  Golden 
Square  (common  proof  that  the  Chevalier  d'Eon 
is  not  confined  in  the  Bastille).  D'Eon  was  much 
too  wily  and  too  much  accustomed  to  attack  to  allow 
diplomatic  insinuations  to  pass  unheeded.  He  was 
now  beginning  to  apply  his  garnered  experience  to 
his  own  protection. 

From  the  above  extract  of  16th  November  one 
can  note  how  the  allegation  as  to  his  sex  was  begin- 
ning to  rankle  in  the  soldier's  mind,  and  how  an 
open  threat  of  punishment  is  conveyed  in  diplomatic 
form.  Indeed  he  had  reason  to  take  umbrage  at 
the  insinuation.  More  than  once  had  attempts 
been  made  to  carry  him  off  for  the  purpose  of 
settling  bets  by  a  humiliating  personal  scrutiny. 
From  something  of  the  same  cause  his  friends  on 
his  death  caused  an  autopsy  to  be  made  before  sev- 
eral witnesses  of  position  and  repute.     Amongst 


these  were  several  surgeons  including  Pere  Elisee, 
First  Surgeon  to  Louis  XVIII.  The  medical  cer- 
tificate ran  as  follows : 

"Je  certifie,  par  le  present,  avoir  inspecte  le  corps 
du  chevalier  d'Eon,  en  presence  de  M.  Adair,  M. 
Wilson  et  du  Pere  Elysee,  et  avoir  trouve  les 
organs  masculins  parfaitement  formes." 




QUEEN  ELIZABETH,  the  last  of  the 
House  of  Tudor,  died  unmarried.  Since 
her  death  in  1603,  there  have  been  revolu- 
tions in  England  due  to  varying  causes,  but  all 
more  or  less  disruptive  of  family  memories.  The 
son  of  James  I  had  his  head  cut  off,  and  after  the 
Commonwealth  which  followed,  Charles  I's  son 
James  II,  had  to  quit  on  the  coming  of  William 
III,  by  invitation.  After  William's  death  with- 
out issue,  Anne,  daughter  of  James  II,  reigned 
for  a  dozen  years,  and  was  succeeded  by  George  I, 
descended  through  the  female  line  from  James  I. 
His  descendants  still  sit  on  the  throne  of  England. 


The  above  facts  are  given  not  merely  in  the 
way  of  historical  enlightenment  but  rather  as  a  sort 
of  apologetic  prolegomenon  to  the  ethical  consid- 
eration of  the  matter  immediately  before  us.  Had 
Queen  Elizabeth  had  any  descendants,  they  need 
not  have  feared  any  discussion  of  her  claims  of  de- 
scent. The  issue  of  the  legality  of  her  mother's 
marriage  had  been  tried  exhaustively  both  before 



and  after  her  own  birth,  and  she  held  the  sceptre 
both  by  the  will  of  her  dead  father  and  the  consent 
of  her  dead  half-sister  who  left  no  issue.  But  Queen 
Elizabeth,  whatever  her  origin,  would  have  been  a 
sufficient  ancestor  for  any  King  or  any  Dynasty. 
Still,  had  she  left  issue  there  might  have  been  lesser 
people,  descendants,  whose  feelings  in  the  matter 
of  personal  and  family  pride  would  have  required 
consideration ;  and  no  person  entering  on  an  analysis 
of  historical  fact  would  have  felt  quite  free-handed 
in  such  an  investigation. 


There  are  quite  sufficient  indications  throughout 
the  early  life  of  Queen  Elizabeth  that  there  was 
some  secret  which  she  kept  religiously  guarded. 
Various  historians  of  the  time  have  referred  to  it, 
and  now  and  again  in  a  way  which  is  enlightening. 

In  a  letter  to  the  Protector  Somerset  in  1549, 
when  the  Princess  Elizabeth  was  15,  Sir  Robert 
Tyrwhitt  says: 

"I  do  verily  believe  that  there  hath  been  some  secret  promise 
between  my  Lady,  Mistress  Ashley,  and  the  Cofferer"  [Sir 
Thomas  Parry]  never  to  confess  to  death,  and  if  it  be  so,  it 
will  never  be  gotten  of  her,  unless  by  the  King's  Majesty  or 
else  by  your  Grace." 

In  his  Girlhood  of  Queen  Elizabeth  Mr.  Frank 
A.  Mumby  writes  of  this: — 

"Elizabeth  was  as  loyal  to  Parry  as  to  Mrs.  Ashley;  she  re- 
instated him  after  a  year's  interval,  in  his  office  as  Cofferer, 


and  on  her  accession  to  the  throne  she  appointed  him  Con- 
troller of  the  royal  household.  She  continued  to  confer  prefer- 
ment upon  both  Parry  and  his  daughter  to  the  end  of  their  lives 
— "conduct,"  remarks  Miss  Strickland,  "which  naturally  in- 
duces a  suspicion  that  secrets  of  great  moment  had  been  con- 
fided to  him — secrets  that  probably  would  have  touched  not 
only  the  maiden  name  of  his  royal  Mistress,  but  placed  her 
life  in  jeopardy,  and  that  he  had  preserved  these  inviolate. 
The  same  may  be  supposed  with  respect  to  Mrs.  Ashley,  to 
whom  Elizabeth  clung  with  unshaken  tenacity  through  every 

Major  Martin  Hume  in  his  Courtships  of  Queen 
Elizabeth  says  of  the  favourable  treatment  of  the 
Governess  and  the  Cofferer: — 

"The  confessions  of  Ashley  and  Parry  are  bad  enough; 
but  they  probably  kept  back  more  than  they  told,  for  on 
Elizabeth's  accession  and  for  the  rest  of  their  lives,  they  were 
treated  with  marked  favour.  Parry  was  knighted  and  made 
Treasurer  of  the  Household,  and  on  Mrs.  Ashley's  death  in 
July  1565  the  Queen  visited  her  in  person  and  mourned  her 
with  great  grief." 

The  same  writer  says  elsewhere  in  the  book : 

"Lady  Harrington  and  Mrs.  Ashley  were,  in  fact,  the  only 
ladies  about  the  Queen  who  were  absolutely  in  her  confi- 

In  a  letter  to  the  Doge  of  Venice  in  1556  Gio- 
vanni Michiel  wrote : 

"She"  [Elizabeth]  "I  understand,  having  plainly  said  that 
she  will  not  marry,  even  were  they  to  give  her  the  King's" 
[Philip  of  Spain]  "son"  [Don  Carlos,  Philip's  son  by  his  first 


wife]  "or  find  any  other  great  prince,  I  again  respectfully  re- 
mind your  serenity  to  enjoin  secrecy  about  this." 

Count  de  Feria  wrote  in  April,  1559: 

"If  my  spies  do  not  lie,  which  I  believe  they  do  not,  for  a 
certain  reason  which  they  have  recently  given  me,  I  under- 
stand that  she  [Elizabeth]  will  not  bear  children." 

At  this  time  Elizabeth  was  only  26  years  of  age. 

The  following  extract  is  taken  from  Mr.  Mum- 
by's  Girlhood  of  Queen  Elizabeth  in  which  is  given 
the  translation  taken  from  Leti's  La  Vie  d'Eliza- 
beth.  The  letter  is  from  Princess  Elizabeth  to 
Lord  Admiral  Seymour,  1548  (apropos  of  his  in- 
tentions regarding  her) : — 

"It  has  also  been  said  that  I  have  only  refused  you  because 
I  was  thinking  of  some  one  else.  I  therefore  entreat  you,  my 
lord,  to  set  your  mind  at  rest  on  this  subject,  and  to  be  per- 
suaded by  this  declaration  that  up  to  this  time  I  have  not  the 
slightest  intention  of  being  married,  and,  that  if  ever  I  should 
think  of  it  {which  I  do  not  believe  is  possible)  you  would  be 
the  first  to  whom  I  should  make  known  my  resolution." 

C.      BISLEY 

The  place  known  to  the  great  public  as  Bisley 
is  quite  other  than  that  under  present  consideration. 
Bisley,  the  ground  for  rifle  competitions,  is  in  Sur- 
rey, thoughtfully  placed  in  juxtaposition  to  an 
eminent  cemetery.  It  bears  every  indication  of 
newness — so  far  as  any  locality  of  old  earth  can  be 


But  the  other  is  the  original  place  of  the  name, 
possessing  a  recorded  history  which  goes  back  many- 
hundreds  of  years.  It  is  in  Gloucestershire  high 
up  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  Cotswold  Hills  at  their 
southern  end  where  they  rise  above  the  Little  Avon 
which  runs  into  the  embouchure  of  the  Severn  to 
the  Bristol  Channel.  The  trace  of  Roman  occupa- 
tion is  all  over  that  part  of  England.  When  the 
pioneers  of  that  strenuous  nation  made  their  essay 
on  Britain  they  came  with  the  intention  of  staying ; 
and  to-day  their  splendid  roads  remain  unsurpassed 
— almost  unsurpassable.  In  this  part  of  the  West 
Country  there  are  several  of  them,  of  which  the 
chief  are  Irmin  (or  Ermine)  Street,  running  from 
Southampton  through  Cirencester  and  Gloucester 
to  Caerleon,  and  Ikenild  Street  running  from 
Cirencester,  entering  Gloucestershire  at  Eastleach. 
I  am  particular  about  these  roads  as  we  may  require 
to  notice  them  carefully.  There  is  really  but  one 
Bisley  in  this  part  of  the  country,  but  the  name  is 
spelled  so  variously  that  the  simple  phonetic  spell- 
ing might  well  serve  for  a  nucleating  principle. 
In  all  sorts  of  papers,  from  Acts  of  Parliament 
and  Royal  Charters  down  to  local  deeds  of  tenancy, 
it  is  thus  varied — Bisleigh,  Bistlegh,  Byselegh,  Bus- 
sely.  In  this  part  of  the  Cotswolds  "Over"  is  a 
common  part  of  a  name  which  was  formerly  used 
as  a  prefix.  Such  is  not  always  at  once  apparent 
for  the  modern  cartographer  seems  to  prefer  the 
modern  word  "upper"  as  the  prefix.     Attention  is 


merely  called  to  it  here  as  later  on  we  shall  have 
to  consider  it  more  carefully. 

The  most  interesting  spot  in  the  whole  district 
is  the  house  "Overcourt,"  which  was  once  the 
manor-house  of  Bisley.  It  stands  close  to  Bisley 
church  from  the  grave-yard  of  which  it  is  only  sep- 
arated by  a  wicket-gate.  The  title-deeds  of  this 
house,  which  is  now  in  possession  of  the  Gordon 
family  show  that  it  was  a  part  of  the  dower  of 
Queen  Elizabeth.  But  the  world  went  by  it,  and 
little  by  little  the  estate  of  which  it  was  a  portion 
changed  hands;  so  that  now  the  house  remains 
almost  as  an  entity.  Naturally  enough,  the  young 
Princess  Elizabeth  lived  there  for  a  time;  and  one 
can  still  see  the  room  she  occupied.  A  medium- 
sized  room  with  mullioned  windows,  having  small 
diamond-shaped  panes  set  in  lead  after  the  pattern 
of  the  Tudor  period.  A  great  beam  of  oak,  not 
exactly  "trued"  with  the  adze  but  following  the 
natural  trend  of  the  wood,  crosses  the  ceiling.  The 
window  looks  out  on  a  little  walled-in  garden,  one 
of  the  flower  beds  of  which  is  set  in  an  antique  stone 
receptacle  of  oblong  shape  which  presents  some- 
thing of  the  appearance  of  a  stone  coffin  of  the 
earlier  ages.     Of  this  more  anon. 

Whether  at  the  time  of  the  birth  of  Elizabeth 
the  mansion  of  Overcourt  was  itself  in  the  King's 
possession  is  a  little  difficult  to  fathom,  for,  in  the 
Confession  of  Thomas  Parry  written  in  1549  con- 
cerning a  period  a  little  earlier,  it  is  said:  "And  I 


told  her"  [Princess  Elizabeth]  "further  how  he" 
[Lord  Admiral  Thomas  Seymour]  "would  have 
had  her  to  have  lands  in  Gloucestershire  called  Bis- 
ley  as  in  parcel  of  exchange,  and  in  Wales." 

In  addition  to  its  natural  desirability  in  the  way; 
of  hygiene  and  altitude  there  seems  to  have  been 
a  wish  on  the  part  of  family  advisers  of  those  hav- 
ing estates  in  the  vicinity  of  this  place,  to  enlarge 
their  possessions.  This  was  wise  enough,  for  in 
the  disturbed  state  of  affairs  which  ushered  in  the 
Tudor  Dynasty,  and  the  effects  of  which  still  con- 
tinued, it  was  of  distinct  benefit  to  have  communities 
here  and  there  large  enough  for  self  protection. 
This  idea  held  with  many  of  the  families  as  well 
as  individuals  whose  names  are  associated  with  Bis- 
ley.  Henry  VIII  himself,  as  over-lord  with  own- 
ership derived  from  the  Norman  Conquest,  had 
feudal  claims  on  the  de  Bohuns  who  represented 
all  the  local  possessions  of  the  Dukedom  of  Glou- 
cester and  the  Earldoms  of  Essex  Hereford  and 
Northampton.  Also  the  greedy  eyes  of  certain 
strong  men  and  families  who  had  hopes  that  time 
and  influence  already  existing,  might  later  on  bring 
them  benefit,  were  fixed  on  this  desirable  spot. 
Thomas  Seymour,  the  unscrupulous  brother  of  the 
future  Lord  Protector,  was  high  in  influence  in  the 
early  days  of  the  Princess  Elizabeth,  and  even  then 
must  have  had  ambitious  designs  of  marrying  her. 
On  the  death  of  Henry  VIII  he  had,  when  Lord 
Sudeley,  married  the  king's  widow  within  a  few 


months  of  her  widowhood,  and  received  a  grant  of 
the  royal  possession  at  Bisley  which,  on  his  attainder, 
passed  on  to  Sir  Anthony  Kingston,  who  doubtless 
had  already  marked  it  down  as  an  objective  of  his 

The  "Hundred  of  Bisley"  was  one  of  the  seven 
of  Cirencester  which  of  old  were  farmed  by  the 
Abbey  of  Tewksbury.  Its  position  was  so  full  of 
possibilities  of  future  development  as  to  justify  the 
acquisitive  spirit  of  those  who  desired  it.  In  its 
bounds  were  what  is  now  the  town  of  Stroud,  as 
well  as  a  whole  line  of  mills  which  had  in  early 
days  great  effect  as  they  were  workable  by  both 
wind  and  water  power,  both  of  which  were  to  be  had 
in  profusion.  This  little  remote  hamlet  had  a  pro- 
gressive industry  of  its  own  in  the  shape  of  a  manu- 
facture of  woollen  cloths.  It  also  represented  dye- 
ing in  scarlet  and  was  the  place  of  origin  of  Giles 
Gobelin,  a  famous  dyer  who  gave  his  name  to  the 
Gobelin  tapestry. 

One  other  thing  must  be  distinctly  borne  in  mind 
regarding  Bisley  in  the  first  half  of  the  sixteenth 
century;  it  was  comparatively  easy  of  access  from 
London  for  those  who  wished  to  go  there.  A  line 
drawn  on  the  map  will  show  that  on  the  way  as 
points  d'appui,  were  Oxford  and  Cirencester,  both 
of  which  were  surrounded  with  good  roads  as  be- 
came their  importance  as  centres.  This  line  seems 
very  short  for  its  importance.  To-day  the  jour- 
ney is  that  of  a  morning;  and  even  in  the  time  of 


He^nry  VIII  when  horse  traction  was  the  only  kind 
available,  the  points  were  not  very  distant  as  to  time 
of  traverse.  To  Henry,  who  commanded  every- 
thing and  had  a  myriad  agents  eager  to  display 
their  energy  in  his  service,  all  was  simple ;  and  when 
he  went  a-hunting  in  the  forests  which  made  a  net- 
work far  around  Berkeley  Castle  his  objective 
could  be  easily  won  between  breakfast  and  supper. 
There  was  not  any  difficulty  therefore,  and  not  too 
much  personal  strain,  when  he  chose  to  visit  his 
little  daughter  even  though  at  the  start  one  should 
be  at  Nether  Lypiat  and  the  other  at  Greenwich 
or  Hatfield  or  Eltham. 


The  Tradition  is  that  the  little  Princess  Eliza- 
beth, during  her  childhood,  was  sent  away  with  her 
governess  for  change  of  air  to  Bisley  where  the 
strong  sweet  air  of  the  Cotswold  Hills  would  brace 
her  up.  The  healthy  qualities  of  the  place  were 
known  to  her  father  and  many  others  of  those 
around  her.  Whilst  she  was  at  Overcourt,  word 
was  sent  to  her  governess  that  the  King  was  com- 
ing to  see  his  little  daughter;  but  shortly  before 
the  time  fixed,  and  whilst  his  arrival  was  expected 
at  any  hour,  a  frightful  catastrophe  happened.  The 
child,  who  had  been  ailing  in  a  new  way,  developed 
acute  fever,  and  before  steps  could  be  taken  even 
to  arrange  for  her  proper  attendance  and  nursing, 
she  died.     The  governess  feared  to  tell  her  father — 


Henry  VIII  had  the  sort  of  temper  which  did  not 
make  for  the  happiness  of  those  around  him.  In 
her  despair  she,  having  hidden  the  body,  rushed  off 
to  the  village  to  try  to  find  some  other  child  whose 
body  could  be  substituted  for  that  of  the  dead  prin- 
cess so  that  the  evil  moment  of  disclosure  of  the  sad 
fact  might  be  delayed  till  after  His  Majesty's  de- 
parture. But  the  population  was  small  and  no  girl 
child  of  any  kind  was  available.  The  distracted 
woman  then  tried  to  find  a  living  girl  child  who 
could  be  passed  off  for  the  princess,  whose  body 
could  be  hidden  away  for  the  time. 

Throughout  the  little  village  and  its  surround- 
ings was  to  be  found  no  girl  child  of  an  age  reason- 
ably suitable  for  the  purpose  required.  More  than 
ever  distracted,  for  time  was  flying  by,  she  deter- 
mined to  take  the  greater  risk  of  a  boy  substitute — 
if  a  boy  could  be  found.  Happily  for  the 
poor  woman's  safety,  for  her  very  life  now 
hung  in  the  balance,  this  venture  was  easy 
enough  to  begin.  There  was  a  boy  available, 
and  just  such  a  boy  as  would  suit  the  special 
purpose  for  which  he  was  required — a  boy  well 
known  to  the  governess,  for  the  little  Princess  had 
taken  a  fancy  to  him  and  had  lately  been  accus- 
tomed to  play  with  him.  Moreover,  he  was  a  pretty 
boy  as  might  have  been  expected  from  the  circum- 
stance of  the  little  Lady  Elizabeth  having  chosen 
him  as  her  playmate.  He  was  close  at  hand  and 
available.     So  he  was  clothed  in  the  dress  of  the 


dead  child,  they  being  of  about  equal  stature;  and 
when  the  King's  fore-rider  appeared  the  poor  over- 
wrought governess  was  able  to  breathe  freely. 

The  visit  passed  off  successfully.  Henry  sus- 
pected nothing;  as  the  whole  thing  had  happened 
so  swiftly,  there  had  been  no  antecedent  anxiety. 
Elizabeth  had  been  brought  up  in  such  dread  of 
her  father  that  he  had  not,  at  the  rare  intervals 
of  his  seeing  her,  been  accustomed  to  any  affection- 
ate effusiveness  on  her  part ;  and  in  his  hurried  visit 
he  had  no  time  for  baseless  conjecture. 

Then  came  the  natural  nemesis  of  such  a  decep- 
tion. As  the  dead  could  not  be  brought  back  to 
life,  and  as  the  imperious  monarch,  who  bore  no 
thwarting  of  his  wishes,  was  under  the  impression 
that  he  could  count  on  his  younger  daughter  as  a 
pawn  in  the  great  game  of  political  chess  which 
he  had  entered  on  so  deeply,  those  who  by  now 
must  have  been  in  the  secret  did  not  and  could  not 
dare  to  make  disclosure.  Moreover  the  difficulties 
and  dangers  to  one  and  all  involved  would  of  neces- 
sity grow  with  each  day  that  passed.  Willy  nilly 
they  must  go  on.  Fortunately  for  the  safety  of 
their  heads  circumstances  favoured  them.  The 
secret  was,  up  to  now,  hidden  in  a  remote  village 
high  up  on  the  side  of  the  Cotswold  hills.  Steep 
declivities  guarded  it  from  casual  intrusion,  and 
there  was  no  trade  beyond  that  occasional  traffic 
necessary  for  a  small  agricultural  community.  The 
whole  country  as  far  as  the  eye  could  see  was  either 


royal  domain  or  individual  property  owned  or  held 
by  persons  attached  to  the  dynasty  by  blood  or 

Facilities  of  intercommunication  were  few  and 
slow;  and  above  all  uncertain  and  therefore  not  to 
be  relied  on. 

This  then  was  the  beginning  of  the  tradition 
which  has  existed  locally  ever  since.  In  such  dis- 
tricts change  is  slow,  and  what  has  been  may  well 
be  taken,  unless  there  be  something  to  the  contrary, 
for  what  is.  The  isolation  of  the  hamlet  in  the 
Cotswolds  where  the  little  princess  lived  for  a  time 
— and  is  supposed  to  have  died — is  almost  best 
exemplified  by  the  fact  that  though  the  momentous 
secret  has  existed  for  between  three  and  four  cen- 
turies, no  whisper  of  it  has  reached  the  great  world 
without  its  confines.  Not  though  the  original  sub- 
ject of  it  was  the  very  centre  of  the  wildest  and 
longest  battle  which  has  ever  taken  place  since  the 
world  began — polemical,  dynastic,  educational,  in- 
ternational, commercial.  Anyone  living  in  any 
town  in  our  own  age,  where  advance  and  expansive- 
ness  are  matters  of  degree,  not  of  fact,  may  find  it 
hard  to  believe  that  any  such  story,  nebulous  though 
it  may  be,  could  exist  unknown  and  unrecorded  out- 
side a  place  so  tiny  that  its  most  important  details 
will  not  be  found  even  on  the  ordnance  map  of  an 
inch  to  the  mile.  But  a  visit  to  Bisley  will  set 
aside  any  such  doubts.     The  place  itself  has  hardly 


changed,  in  any  measure  to  be  apparent  as  a  change, 
in  the  three  centuries  and  more.  The  same  build- 
ings stand  as  of  yore ;  the  same  estate  wall,  though 
more  picturesque  with  lichen,  and  with  individual 
stones  corrugated  by  weather  and  dislocated  by 
arboreal  growths,  speak  of  an  epoch  ending  with 
the  Tudor  age.  The  doors  of  the  great  tithe-barns 
which  remain  as  souvenirs  of  extinct  feudalism,  still 
yawn  wide  on  their  festered  hinges.  Nay,  even  the 
very  trees  show  amongst  their  ranks  an  extraor- 
dinary percentage  of  giants  which  have  withstood 
unimpaired  all  the  changes  that  have  been. 

Leaving  busy  and  thriving  Stroud,  one  climbs 
the  long  hill  past  Lipiat  and  emerges  in  the  village, 
where  time  has  suddenly  ceased,  and  we  find  our- 
selves in  the  age  and  the  surroundings  which  saw 
the  House  of  York  fade  into  the  Tudor  dynasty. 
Such  a  journey  is  almost  a  necessity  for  a  proper 
understanding  of  the  story  of  the  Bisley  Boy,  which 
has  by  the  effluxion  of  time  attained  to  almost  the 
grace  and  strength  of  a  legend.  It  is  quite  possible 
that  though  the  place  has  stood  still,  the  tradition 
has  not,  for  it  is  in  the  nature  of  intellectual  growth 
to  advance.  One  must  not  look  on  the  Gloucester- 
shire people  as  sleepy — sleepiness  is  no  character- 
istic of  that  breezy  upland;  but  dreaming,  whether 
its  results  be  true  or  false,  does  not  depend  on  sleep. 
In  cases  like  the  present,  sleep  is  not  to  be  looked 
on  as  a  blood  relation  of  death  but  rather  as  a  pre- 


servative  against  the  ravages  of  time — like  the  mys- 
terious slumber  of  King  Arthur  and  others  who  are 
destined  for  renewal. 

It  may  be  taken  for  granted  that  in  course  of 
time  and  under  the  process  of  purely  oral  communi- 
cation, the  story  told  in  whispers  lost  nothing  in 
the  way  of  romance  or  credibility ;  that  flaws  or  la- 
cunae were  made  good  by  inquiry ;  and  that  recollec- 
tions of  overlooked  or  forgotten  facts  were  recalled 
or  even  supplemented  by  facile  invention.  But  it 
may  also  be  taken  for  granted  that  no  statement 
devoid  of  a  solid  foundation  could  become  perma- 
nently accepted.  There  were  too  many  critics 
around,  with  memories  unimpaired  by  overwork,  to 
allow  incorrect  statements  to  pass  unchallenged. 
There  is  always  this  in  tradition,  that  the  collective 
mind  which  rules  in  small  communities  is  a  child's 
mind,  which  must  ever  hold  grimly  on  to  fact. 
And  that  behind  the  child's  mind  is  the  child's  na- 
ture which  most  delights  in  the  recountal  of  what 
it  knows,  and  is  jealous  of  any  addition  to  the  story 
which  is  a  part  of  its  being. 

Major  Martin  Hume  writes  in  his  Courtships  of 
Queen  Elizabeth: 

"Elizabeth  was  only  three  when  her  mother's  fall  removed 
her  from  the  line  of  the  succession.  ...  In  1542,  how- 
ever, the  death  of  James  V  of  Scotland  and  the  simultaneous 
birth  of  his  daughter  Mary  seemed  to  bring  nearer  Henry's 
idea  of  a  union  between  the  two  crowns.  He  proposed  to 
marry  the  baby  Queen  of  Scots  to  his  infant  son  and  at  the 


same  time  he  offered  the  hand  of  Elizabeth  (then  nine)  to  a 
son  of  Arran — head  of  House  of  Hamilton,  next  heir  to  the 
Scottish  crown.  .  .  .  Mary  and  Elizabeth  were  restored 
to  their  places  in  the  line  of  succession.  ...  In  January 
1547  Henry  VIII  died,  leaving  the  succession  to  his  two 
daughters  in  tail  after  Edward  VI  and  his  heirs.  Queen 
Catherine  (Parr)  immediately  married  Sir  Thomas  Seymour, 
brother  of  Protector  Somerset  and  uncle  of  the  little  king 
(Edward  VI).  To  them  was  confided  Princess  Elizabeth 
then  a  girl  of  14.'  " 

Elizabeth  was  three  in  1536.  The  story  of  the 
Bisley  Boy  dates  probably  to  1543-4.  So  that  if 
the  story  have  any  foundation  at  all  in  fact,  signs 
of  a  complete  change  of  identity  in  the  person  of 
Princess  Elizabeth  must  be  looked  for  in  the  period 
of  some  seven  or  eight  years  which  intervened. 


In  such  a  case  as  that  before  us  the  difficulty  of 
proof  is  almost  insuperable.  But  fortunately  we 
are  dealing  with  a  point  not  of  law  but  of  history. 
Proof  is  not  in  the  first  instance  required,  but  only 
surmise,  to  be  followed  by  an  argument  of  proba- 
bility. Such  records  as  still  exist  are  all  the  proofs 
that  can  be  adduced;  and  all  we  can  do  is  to  search 
for  such  records  as  still  exist,  without  which  we  lack 
the  enlightenment  that  waits  on  discovery.  In  the 
meanwhile  we  can  deduce  a  just  conclusion  from 
such  materials  as  we  do  possess.  Failing  certitude, 
which  is  under  the  circumstances  almost  impossible, 
we  only  arrive  at  probability;  and  with  that  until 


discovery  of  more  reliable  material  we  must  be  con- 

Let  us  therefore  sum  up:  first  the  difficulties  of 
the  task  before  us;  then  the  enlightenments. 
"Facts,"  says  one  of  the  characters  of  Charles  Dick- 
ens, "bein'  stubborn  and  not  easy  drove,"  are  at 
least,  so  far  as  they  go,  available.  We  are  free  to 
come  to  conclusions  and  to  make  critical  comments. 
Our  risk  is  that  if  we  err — on  whichever  side  does 
not  matter — we  reverse  our  position  and  become 
ourselves  the  objects  of  attack. 

Our  main  difficulties  are  two.  First,  that  all 
from  whom  knowledge  might  have  been  obtained 
are  dead  and  their  lips  are  closed;  second,  that  rec- 
ords are  incomplete.  This  latter  is  the  result  of 
one  of  two  causes — natural  decay  or  purposed  ob- 
literation. The  tradition  of  the  Bisley  Boy  has 
several  addenda  due  to  time  and  thought.  One  of 
these  is  that  some  of  those  concerned  in  the  story 
disappeared  from  the  scene. 

The  story  runs  that  on  Elizabeth's  accession  or 
under  circumstances  antecedent  to  it  all  who  were 
in  the  secret  and  still  remained  were  "got  rid  of." 
The  phrase  is  a  convenient  one  and  not  unknown 
in  history.  Fortunately  those  who  must  have  been 
in  such  a  secret — if  there  was  one — were  but  few. 
If  such  a  thing  occurred  in  reality,  four  persons 
were  necessarily  involved  in  addition  to  Elizabeth 
herself:  (1)  Mrs.  Ashley,  (2)  Thomas  Parry,  (3) 
the  parent  of  the  living  child  who  replaced  the 


dead  one;  the  fourth,  being  an  unknown  quantity, 
represents  an  idea  rather  than  a  person — a  nu- 
cleated identity  typical  of  family  life  with  at- 
tendant difficulties  of  concealment.  Of  these  four 
— three  real  persons  and  an  idea — three  are  ac- 
counted for,  so  far  as  the  "got  rid  of"  theory  is 
concerned.  Elizabeth  never  told;  Thomas  Parry 
and  Mrs.  Ashley  remained  silent,  in  the  full  con- 
fidence of  the  (supposed)  Princess  who  later  was 
Queen.  With  regard  to  the  last,  the  nucleated 
personality  which  includes  the  unknown  parent  pos- 
sibly but  not  of  certainty,  contemporary  record  is 
silent ;  and  we  can  only  regard  him  or  her  as  a  mys- 
terious entity  available  for  conjecture  in  such  cases 
of  difficulty  as  may  present  themselves. 

We  must  perforce,  therefore,  fall  back  on  pure 
unadulterated  probability,  based  on  such  rags  of 
fact  as  can  be  produced  at  our  inquest.  Our  com- 
fort— content  being  an  impossibility — must  lie  in 
the  generally-accepted  aphorism;  "Truth  will  pre- 
vail." In  real  life  it  is  not  always  so;  but  it  is  a 
comforting  belief  and  may  remain  faut  de  mieux. 

A  grave  cause  of  misleading  is  inexact  transla- 
tion— whether  the  fault  be  in  ignorance  or  inten- 
tional additions  to  or  substractions  from  text 
referred  to.  A  case  in  point  is  afforded  by  the 
letter  already  referred  to  from  Leti's  La  Vie 
d'Elizdbeth.  In  the  portion  quoted  Elizabeth 
mentioned  her  intention  of  not  marrying:  "I  have 
not  the  slightest  intention  of  being  married,  and 


.  .  .  if  ever  I  should  think  of  it  (which  I  do  not 
believe  is  possible)."  Now  in  Mr.  Mumby's  book 
the  quotation  is  made  from  Leti's  La  Vie  d'Eliza- 
beth  which  is  the  translation  into  French  from  the 
original  Italian,  the  passage  marked  above  in  italics 
is  simply:  "ce  que  je  ne  crois  pas."  The  addition 
of  the  words  "is  possible"  gives  what  is  under  the 
circumstances  quite  a  different  meaning  to  the 
earliest  record  we  have  concerning  the  very  point 
we  are  investigating.  When  I  began  this  investi- 
gation, I  looked  on  the  passage — neither  Mumby, 
remember,  nor  even  Leti,  but  what  professed  to  be 
the  ipsissima  verba  of  Elizabeth  herself — and  I  was 
entirely  misled  until  I  had  made  comparison  for 
myself — Quis  custodiet  ipsos  custodes?  The  ad- 
dition of  the  two  words,  which  seems  at  first  glance 
merely  to  emphasise  an  expression  of  opinion, 
changes  the  meaning  of  the  writer  to  a  belief  so 
strong  that  the  recital  of  it  gives  it  the  weight 
of  intention.  Under  ordinary  circumstances  this 
would  not  matter  much ;  but  as  wTe  have  to  consider 
it  in  the  light  of  a  man  defending  his  head  against 
danger,  and  in  a  case  where  absolute  circumspec- 
tion is  a  necessary  condition  of  safety  so  that  inten- 
tion becomes  a  paramount  force,  exactness  of  ex- 
pression is  all-important. 

The  only  way  to  arrive  at  probability  is  to  begin 
with  fact.  Such  is  a  base  for  even  credulity  or  its 
opposite,  and  if  it  is  our  wish  or  intention  to  be  just 
there  need  be  no  straining  on  either  one  side  or  the 


other.     In  the  ease  of  the  Bisley  Boy  the  points  to 
be  considered  are: 

1.  The  time  at  which  the  change  was  or  could  be 

2.  The  risk  of  discovery,  (a)  at  first,  (b)  after- 

It  will  be  necessary  to  consider  these  separately 
for  manifest  reasons.  The  first  belongs  to  the 
region  of  Danger ;  the  second  to  the  region  of  Diffi- 
culty, with  the  headsman's  axe  glittering  omi- 
nously in  the  background. 


(a)  The  time  at  which  the  change  was  or  could 
have  been  effected. 

For  several  valid  reasons  I  have  come  to  the  con- 
clusion that  the  crucial  period  by  which  the  Bisley 
story  must  be  tested  is  the  year  ending  with  July 
1544.  No  other  time  either  earlier  or  later  would, 
so  far  as  we  know,  have  fulfilled  the  necessary  con- 

First  of  all  the  question  of  sex  has  to  be  consid- 
ered; and  it  is  herein  that,  lacking  suitable  and  full 
opportunity,  discovery  of  such  an  imposture  must 
have  been  at  once  detected — certainly  had  it  com- 
menced at  an  early  age.  In  babyhood  the  whole 
of  the  discipline  of  child-life  begins.  The  ordinary 
cleanliness  of  life  has  to  be  taught,  and  to  this  end 
there  is  no  portion  of  the  infantile  body  which  is 
not  subject  to  at  least  occasional  inspection.     This 


disciplinary  inspection  lasts  by  force  of  habit  until 
another  stage  on  the  journey  towards  puberty  has 
been  reached.  Commercial  use  in  America  fixes 
stages  of  incipient  womanhood — by  dry  goods'  ad- 
vertisement— as  "children's,  misses'  and  girls'  cloth- 
ing," and  the  illustration  will  sufficiently  serve. 
It  seems  at  first  glance  an  almost  unnecessary  in- 
trusion into  purely  domestic  life;  but  the  present 
is  just  one  of  those  cases  where  the  experience  of 
women  is  not  only  useful  but  necessary.  In  a  ques- 
tion of  identity  of  sex  the  nursemaid  and  the 
washerwoman  play  useful  parts  in  the  witness  box. 
Regarding  Elizabeth's  childhood  no  question  need 
ever  or  can  ever  arise.  For  at  least  the  first  ten 
years  of  her  life,  a  woman's  sex  need  not  be  known 
outside  the  nursery  and  the  sick  room;  but  then 
this  is  the  very  time  when  her  attendants  have  direct 
and  ample  knowledge.  Moreover  in  the  case  of 
the  child  of  Queen  Anne  (Boleyn)  there  was  every 
reason  why  the  sex  should  have  been  unreservedly 
known.  Henry  VIII  divorced  Katherine  of  Ar- 
agon  and  married  Anne  in  the  hope  of  having 
legitimate  male  issue  to  sit  on  the  throne  of  Eng- 
land. Later,  when  both  Katherine  and  Anne  had 
failed  to  satisfy  him  as  to  male  issue,  he  divorced 
Anne  and  married  Jane  Seymour  for  the  same  pur- 
pose. In  the  interval  either  his  views  had  enlarged 
or  his  patience  had  extended ;  for,  when  Jane's  life 
hung  in  the  balance,  owing  to  an  operation  which 
the  surgeons  considered  necessary,  and  the  husband 


was  consulted  as  to  which  life  they  should,  in  case 
of  needful  choice,  try  to  save,  his  reply  was  pecul- 
iar— though,  taken  in  the  light  of  historical  per- 
spective, not  at  variance  with  his  dominating  idea. 
Gregorio  Leti  thus  describes  the  incident  (the  quo- 
tation is  made  from  the  translation  of  the  Italian 
into  French  and  published  in  Amsterdam  in 
1694)  :— 

"Quand  les  medecins  demanderent  au  Roi  qui  Ton  sauverait 
de  la  mere  ou  de  l'enfant,  il  repondit,  qu'il  auroit  extreme- 
ment  souhait  de  pouvoir  sauver  la  mere  et  l'enfant,  mais  que 
eel  n'etant  possible,  il  vouloit  que  Ton  sauvat  l'enfant  plutot 
que  la  mere  parce  qu'il  trouveroit  assez  d'  autres  femmes." 

It  had  become  a  monomania  with  Henry  that  he 
should  be  father  of  a  lawful  son;  and  when  the 
child  of  his  second  union  was  expected,  he  so  took 
the  consummation  of  his  wishes  for  granted  that 
those  in  attendance  on  his  wife  were  actually  afraid 
to  tell  him  the  truth.  It  would  have  been  fortune 
and  social  honour  to  whosoever  should  bear  him  the 
glad  tidings.  We  may  be  sure  then  that  news  so 
welcome  would  never  have  been  perverted  by  those 
who  had  so  much  to  gain.  As  it  was,  the  "lady- 
mistress" — as  she  called  herself — of  the  little  Prin- 
cess, Mrs.  (afterwards  Lady)  Bryan,  wrote  in 
her  letter  to  Lord  Cromwell  in  1536 — Elizabeth 
being  then  in  her  third  year : — 

"She  is  as  toward  a  child  and  as  gentle  of  conditions,  as 
ever  I  knew  any  in  my  life." 


The  writer  could  have  had  no  ignorance  as  to  the 
sex  of  the  child,  for  in  the  same  letter  she  gives 
Cromwell  a  list  of  her  wants  in  the  way  of  clothing ; 
which  list  is  of  the  most  intimate  kind,  including 
gown,  kirtle,  petticoat,  "no  manner  of  linen  nor 
smocks,"  kerchiefs,  rails,  body  stitchets,  handker- 
chiefs, sleeves,  mufflers,  biggens.  As  in  the  same 
letter  it  is  mentioned  that  the  women  attending  the 
child  were  under  the  rule  of  Lady  Bryan — an  ac- 
complished nurse  who  had  brought  up  Princess 
Mary  and  had  been  "governess  to  the  children  his 
Grace  have  had  ever  since" — it  can  be  easily  under- 
stood she  was  well  acquainted  with  even  the  small- 
est detail  of  the  royal  nursery.  Had  the  trouble 
of  the  lady-mistress  been  with  regard  to  super- 
abundance of  underclothing,  one  might  have  under- 
stood ignorance  on  the  part  of  the  responsible  con- 
troller; but  in  the  plentiful  lack  of  almost  every 
garment  necessary  for  the  child's  wear  by  day  or 
by  night  there  could  be  no  question  as  to  her  osten- 
sible sex  at  this  age. 

Thence  on,  there  were  experienced  and  devoted 
persons  round  the  little  Princess,  whose  value  in  her 
father's  eyes  was  largely  enhanced  since  he  had  se- 
cured, for  the  time,  her  legitimacy  by  an  Act  of 

After  Elizabeth  had  been  legitimised,  she  be- 
came one  of  the  pieces  in  the  gigantic  game  of 
chess  on  wliich  Henry  had  embarked.  Despite  the 
fact  that  the  son  for  whom  he  had  craved  was  now 


a  boy  of  six,  it  was  only  wise  to  consider  and  be 
prepared  for  whatever  might  happen  in  case 
Prince  Edward  should  not  live,  and  if,  in  such  a 
case,  Mary  should  die  without  issue.  The  case 
was  one  of  amazing  complexity,  and  as  the  time 
wore  on  the  religious  question  became  structurally 
involved.  England  had  declared  in  no  uncertain 
voice  in  favour  of  Protestantism,  and  the  whole 
forces  of  Rome  were  arrayed  against  her.  Mary 
was  altogether  in  favour  of  the  religion  of  her  in- 
jured mother,  and  behind  her  stood  the  power  of 
Catholicism  which,  even  in  that  unscrupulous  age, 
was  well  ahead  in  the  race  of  unscrupulousness. 
And  as  Elizabeth  stood  next  to  the  young  Prince 
Edward  in  the  forces  of  Reformation,  on  her  was 
focussed  much  of  the  suspicion  of  polemic  intrigue. 
The  papacy  was  all  powerful  in  matters  of  secret 
inquiry.  Indeed  in  such  an  inquest  its  powers  were 
unique,  for  unscrupulous  spies  were  everywhere — 
even,  it  was  alleged,  in  the  confessional.  How 
then  could  such  a  secret  as  the  sex  of  a  little  girl 
of  not  a  dozen  years  of  age,  who  was  constantly 
surrounded  by  women  necessarily  conversant  with 
every  detail  of  her  life,  be  kept  from  all  who  wished 
to  solve  it.  In  such  a  state  of  affairs  suspicion  was 
equivalent  to  discovery.  And  discovery  meant 
ruin  to  all  concerned,  death  to  abettors  of  the 
fraud,  woe  and  destruction  to  England  and  a  gen- 
eral upheaval  of  the  fundamental  ideas  of  Chris- 
tendom.    It  may,  I  presume,  be  taken  for  granted 


without  flaw  or  mitigation  of  any  kind  that  up  to 
July,  1543,  the  "Princess  Elizabeth"  was  what  she 
appeared  to  be — a  girl. 

At  the  time  of  her  first  letter  to  the  new  Queen, 
Catherine  (Parr),  she  was  just  a  trifle  under  ten 
years  of  age  and  a  well-grown  child,  quick,  clever, 
rather  precocious,  and  well  grounded  in  the  learn- 
ing of  her  time.  The  exact  date  of  this  letter  is 
not  given  by  Leti — of  which  more  anon — but  it 
must  have  been  somewhere  between  July  12  and 
31,  1543.  Henry  VIII  married  Catherine  Parr 
on  12  July,  and  in  her  letter  of  1543  Elizabeth  calls 
Catherine  "your  Majesty."  In  her  letter  of  31 
July,  1544  she  writes  to  the  same  correspondent: 

"...  has  deprived  me  for  a  whole  year  of  your  most 
illustrious  presence." 

The  whereabouts  of  Elizabeth  during  this  last 
year  appears  to  be  the  centre  of  the  mystery ;  and  if 
any  letter  or  proof  is  ever  found  of  Elizabeth's  be- 
ing anywhere  but  in  her  own  house  of  Overcourt  in 
Bisley  Parish,  it  will  go  far  to  settle  the  vexed  ques- 
tion now  brought  before  the  world  for  the  first 

(b)     The  opportunity 

The  year  1542  was  a  busy  time  for  Henry 
VIII.  He  had  on  hand,  either  pending  or 
going  on,  two  momentous  wars,  one  with  Scot- 
land the  other  with  France.     The  causes  of  either 


of  these  were  too  complicated  for  mention  here; 
suffice  it  to  say  that  they  were  chiefly  dynastic  and 
polemic.  In  addition  he  was  busy  with  matri- 
monial matters,  chiefly  killing  off  his  fifth  wife 
Catherine  Howard,  and  casting  eyes  on  the  new- 
made  widow  of  Lord  Latimer.  In  1543  he  mar- 
ried the  lady,  as  his  sixth  wife.  She  herself  can 
hardly  be  said  to  have  lacked  matrimonial  experi- 
ence, as  this  was  her  third  union.  Her  first  ven- 
ture was  with  the  elderly  Lord  Borough,  who,  like 
Lord  Latimer,  left  her  wealthy.  Henry  had  by 
now  got  what  might  be  called  in  the  slang  of  the 
time  "the  marriage  habit,"  and  honeymoon  dal- 
liance had  hardly  the  same  charm  for  him  as  it 
usually  is  supposed  to  have  with  those  blessed  with 
a  lesser  succession  of  spouses.  The  consequence 
was  that  he  was  able  to  give  more  attention  to  the 
necessary  clearing  up  of  the  Scottish  war,  which 
finished  at  Solway  Moss  on  December  14th,  with 
the  consequent  death  from  chagrin  of  the  Scottish 
King  James  V.  The  cause  of  the  war,  however, 
continued  in  the  shape  of  a  war  with  France  which 
went  on  till  1546  when  peace  was  declared  to  the 
pecuniary  benefit  of  the  English  King.  For  the 
last  two  years  of  this  time  Henry  carried  on  the 
war  singlehanded,  as  the  Emperor  Charles  V,  who 
had  begun  it  as  his  ally,  withdrew. 

There  is  a  paragraph  in  Grafton's  Chronicle 
published  in  1569  which  throws  a  flood  of  light  on 
Elizabeth's  absence  at  this  time,  1543:  "This  yeare 


was  in  London  a  great  death  of  the  pestilence,  and 
therefore  Mighelmas  terme  was  adjourned  to  Saint 
Albones,  and  there  it  was  kept  to  the  ende." 

In  his  Girlhood  of  Queen  Elizabeth,  Mr.  Mumby 
says:  "For  some  obscure  reason  Elizabeth  seems  to 
have  fallen  out  of  her  father's  favour  again  very 
soon  after  Catherine  Parr  had  obtained  his  consent 
to  her  return  to  Court"  (1543).  No  such  cause 
for  the  removal  of  the  Princess  from  London  was 
necessary.  It  was  probably  to  the  presence  of  the 
pestilence  in  London  that  her  removal  to  a  remote 
and  healthy  place  was  due.  Failing  Prince  Ed- 
ward, then  only  five  years  of  age  and  a  weakly 
child,  the  crown  must — unless  some  constitutional 
revolution  be  effected  in  the  meantime  or  some 
future  son  be  born  to  him — devolve  on  his  fe- 
male heirs,  a  matter  pregnant  with  strife  of 
unknown  dimensions.  Mary  was  now  twenty- 
seven  years  old  and  of  a  type  that  did  not 
promise  much  for  maternity.  At  the  same  time, 
Mary,  though  his  eldest  living  daughter,  was  the 
hope  of  the  Catholic  party,  to  which  he  was  in  vio- 
lent opposition;  whereas  in  Elizabeth  lay  the  hope 
of  the  whole  of  the  party  of  the  Reformation. 
Her  life  was  to  her  father  far  beyond  the  calls  of 
parental  affection  or  dynastic  ambition,  and  she  had 
to  be  saved  at  all  costs  from  risk  of  health. 
Henry's  own  experience  of  child-life  was  a  bitter 
one.  Of  his  five  children  by  Catherine  of  Aragon 
only    one,    Mary,    survived    childhood.     Elizabeth 


was  the  only  survivor  of  Anne  Boleyn;  Edward, 
of  Jane  Seymour.  Anne  of  Cleves  had  no  chil- 
dren, and  if  report  spoke  truly  no  chance  of  having 
any.  Catherine  Howard  was  executed  childless. 
And  he  had  only  just  married  Catherine  Parr,  who 
had  already  had  two  husbands. 

On  July  12,  1543,  Henry  married  Catherine  and 
in  due  course  devoted  himself  to  the  war.     On  the 
14  July,  1544,  he  crossed  from  Dover  to  Calais  to 
look  after  the  conduct  of  affairs  for  himself,  and 
on  the  26th  began  the  siege  of  Boulogne.     This 
lasted  for  two  months  when  having  reduced  the 
city  he  returned  home.     On  the  8  September  he 
wrote  to  his  wife  to  that  effect.     During  his  ab- 
sence Queen   Catherine  was  vicegerent  and  had 
manifestly  as  much  public  work  on  hand  as  she 
could  cope  with.     Bisley  was  a  long  way  from  Lon- 
don, and  there  were  no  organised  posts  in  the  six- 
teenth century.     Moreover,  ever  since  his  last  mar- 
riage, Henry  had  been  an  invalid.     He  was  now 
fifty-two  years  of  age,  of  unhealthy  body,  and  so 
heavy   that   he   had   to   be   lifted   by   machinery. 
Catherine  was  a  devoted  wife;  and  as  Henry  was 
both  violent  and  irritable  she  had  little  time  at  com- 
mand to  give  to  the  affairs  of  other  people.     There 
was  small  opportunity  for  any  one  then  who  was 
sufficiently  in  the  focus  of  affairs  to  be  cognisant 
of  such  an  imposture  as  the  tradition  points  out. 
Doubtless  hereafter,  when  a  story  so  fascinating 
and  at  first  glance  so  incredible  begins  to  be  ex- 


aniined  and  its  details  thoroughly  threshed  out, 
more  items  of  evidence  or  surmise  than  are  at  pres- 
ent available  will  be  found  for  the  settlement  of  the 
question,  one  way  or  the  other.  In  the  meantime, 
be  it  remembered,  that  we  are  only  examining  off- 
hand a  tradition  made  known  for  the  first  time  after 
three  centuries.  Our  present  business  is  to  con- 
sider possibilities.  Later  on  the  time  may  come — 
as  it  surely  will;  if  the  story  can  in  the  least  be  ac- 
cepted— for  the  consideration  of  probabilities. 
Both  of  these  tentative  examinations  will  lead  to 
the  final  examination  of  possibility,  of  probability, 
and  of  proof  pro  or  contra. 

At  this  stage  we  must  admit  that  neither  time 
nor  opportunity  present  any  difficulty  in  itself  in- 


(a)     Documents 

The  next  matter  with  which  we  have  to  deal 
is  regarding  the  identity  of  Elizabeth.  This 
needs  (if  necessary)  a  consideration  of  the  facts 
of  her  life,  and  so  far  as  we  can  realise 
them,  from  external  appearance,  mental  and  moral 
attitudes,  and  intentions.  On  account  of  space  we 
must  confine  this  branch  of  the  subject  to  the  small- 
est portion  of  time  necessary  to  form  any  sort  of 
just  conclusion  and  accepting  the  available  records 
up  to  1543,  take  the  next  period  from  that  time  to 


anywhere  within  the  first  few  years  of  her  reign — 
by  which  time  her  character  was  finally  fixed  and 
the  policy  on  which  her  place  in  history  is  to  be 
judged  had  been  formulated  and  tested. 

This  implies  in  the  first  instance  a  brief  (very 
brief)  study  of  her  physique  with  a  corollary  in  the 
shape  of  a  few  remarks  on  her  heredity : 

Grafton's  Chronicle  states,  under  the  date  of  7 
September     1533,     "the     Queene     was     delivered 
of  a  fayre  Lady"  which  was  his  Courtly  way  of  an- 
nouncing the  birth  of  a  female  princess,  blond  in 
colour.     In  all  chronicles  "fayre"  means  of  light 
colour.     In  Wintown  the  reputed  father  of  Mac- 
beth— the  Devil — is  spoken  of  as  a  "fayre"  man; 
evil  qualities  were  in  that  age  attributed  to  blondes. 
In  a  letter  dated  from  Greenwich  Palace,   18 
April,  1534,  Sir  William  Kingston  said  to  Lord 
Lisle:  "To-day,    the    King    and    Queen   were   at 
Eltham"  (where  the  royal  nursery  then  was)  "and 
saw  my  Lady  Princess — as  goodly  a  child  as  hath 
been   seen.     Her   Grace   is   much   in   the    King's 
favour  as  a  goodly  child  should  be — God  save  her!" 
In  1536,  when  Elizabeth  was  but  three  years  old, 
Lady  Bryan,  the  "Lady-mistress"  of  both  Mary 
and  her  half-sister,  wrote  from  Hunsdon  to  Lord 
Cromwell  regarding  the  baby  princess.     "For  she 
is  as  toward  a  child  and  as  gentle  of  conditions,  as 
ever  I  knew  any  in  my  life.     Jesus  preserve  her 
Grace!"     In  the  same  letter  she  says  "Mr.  Shelton 
would  have  my  Lady  Elizabeth  to  dine  and  sup 


every  day  at  the  board  of  estate.  Alas!  my  Lord 
it  is  not  meet  for  a  child  of  her  age  to  keep  such 
rule  yet.  I  promise  you,  my  lord,  I  dare  not  take 
it  upon  me  to  keep  her  Grace  in  health  an'  she 
keep  that  rule.  For  there  she  shall  see  divers 
meats,  and  fruits,  and  wines,  which  it  would  be 
hard  for  me  to  restrain  her  Grace  from.  Ye 
know,  my  lord,  there  is  no  place  of  correction  there ; 
and  she  is  yet  too  young  to  correct  greatly." 

Testimony  is  borne  according  to  Leti  to  the  good 
qualities  of  the  Princess  Elizabeth  in  these  early 
years,  by  the  affectionate  regard  in  which  she  was 
held  by  two  of  Henry's  queens,  the  wronged  and 
unhappy  Anne  of  Cleves  and  the  happy-natured 
Catherine  Parr.  Anne,  he  says,  though  she  had 
only  seen  her  twice  loved  her  much ;  she  thought  her 
beautiful  and  full  of  spirit  ("pleine  d'esprit.") 
Catherine,  according  to  the  same  writer  who  had 
seen  her  often  before  her  marriage  to  Henry,  ad- 
mired her  "esprit  et  ses  manieres." 

If  Leti  could  only  have  spoken  at  first  hand,  his 
record  of  her  would  be  very  valuable.  But  unhap- 
pily he  was  only  born  nearly  thirty  years  after  her 
death.  His  history  was  manifestly  written  from 
records  and  as  Elizabeth's  fame  was  already  made 
before  he  began  to  treat  of  her  his  work  is  largely 
a  panegyric  of  hearsay.  There  is,  regarding  the 
youth  of  the  Princess,  such  an  overdone  flood  of 
adulation  that  it  is  out  of  place  in  a  serious  history 
of  a  human  life.     In  his  account  of  the  time  which 


we  are  considering,  we  find  the  child  compared  in 
both  matters  of  body  and  mind  to  an  angel.  She 
is  credited  at  the  age  of  ten  with  an  amount  of 
knowledge  in  all  branches  of  learning  sufficient  to 
equip  the  illustrious  men  of  a  century.  The  fact 
is  the  Italian  has  accepted  the  queen's  great  posi- 
tion, and  then  reconstructed  her  youth  to  accord 
with  it,  in  such  a  way  as  to  show  that  whatever  re- 
markable abilities  she  possessed  were  the  direct  out- 
come of  her  own  natural  qualities.1 

The  details  above  given  are  not  merely  meagre 
but  are  only  explicable  by  the  fact  that  during  the 
earlier  years  of  her  life  the  child  was  not  consid- 
ered of  any  importance.  The  circumstances  of 
Anne's  marriage — which  in  any  case  was  delayed 
till  it  became  a  necessary  preliminary  to  the  legiti- 
macy on  which  any  future  claim  to  the  throne  must 
rest — did  not  make  for  a  belief  in  the  public  mind 
for  its  permanency.  Things  were  fluctuating  in 
the  religious  world  and  few  were  inclined  to  the  be- 
lief that  the  Pope  (with  whom  lay  the  last  word 
and  whose  political  leanings  in  favour  of  Catherine 
of  Aragon  and  the  validity  of  her  marriage  to 
Henry  were  well  known)  would  be  overthrown  by 
the  English  King.     And  in  any  case,  were  Henry 

i  Amongst  other  branches  of  knowledge  he  credits  her  with  know- 
ing well  "  Geography,  Cosmography,  Mathematics,  Architecture, 
Painting,  Arithmetic,  History,  Mechanics."  She  had  a  special  fa- 
cility in  learning  languages;  spoke  and  wrote  French,  Italian,  Span- 
ish, Flemish.  She  loved  poetry  and  wrote  it,  but  regarded  it  as  a 
useless  amusement  and,  as  it  was  distasteful  to  her,  turned  to  his- 
tory and  politics.  Finally  he  adds:  "She  was  naturally  ambitious 
and   always  knew  how  to  hide  her  defects." 


to  be  the  final  judge  of  appeal  in  his  own  case  no 
great   continuity    of   purpose    could    be    expected 
from  him.     The  first  important  event  which  we 
have  to  consider  with  reference  to  the  question  be- 
fore us  is  Elizabeth's  first  letter  to  Queen  Cath- 
erine  (Parr)   in  1543.     In  this  the  girl  then  ten 
years  old  writes  to  her  new  step-mother,  at  whose 
marriage  she  together  with  her  half-sister  Mary 
had  been  present.     It  is  in  form  a  dutiful  letter, 
not  entirely  without  an  apparent  compulsion  or  at 
least  intelligent  supervision.     As  it  stands,  it  is  im- 
possible to  believe  that  it  emanated  from  a  child  of 
ten  quite  free  to  follow  out  its  inclinations.     The 
dutifulness  is  altogether,  or  largely,   due   to  the 
training  and  self -suppression  of  the  royal  child  of 
an  arbitrary  father  with  absolute  power.     But  it 
remains  for  each  reader  to  consider  it  impartially. 
The  points  which  we  should  do  well  to  note  here 
are  its  plain  form  of  expression,  and  its  entire  ab- 
sence of  personal  affection.     The  latter  is  all  the 
more  marked  in  that  it  was  a  letter  of  thanks  for  a 
kindness  conferred.     Elizabeth  was  very  anxious 
to  come  to  her  father,  and  Catherine  had  furthered 
her  wish   and   secured   its   fulfilment.     After   the 
marriage,   the   child,   as   is   shown    (or   rather   in- 
ferred), had  been  sent  away  for  more  than  a  year, 
which  absence  had  been  prolonged  for  at  least  six 
months — as  already  shown. 

There  is  little  evidence  of  Elizabeth's  inner  na- 
ture in  these  early  days ;  but  we  have  every  right  to 


think  that  she  was  of  a  peaceable,  kindly  and  affec- 
tionate nature.  Lady  Bryan  her  first  nurse  or 
governess  (after  Lady  Boleyn,  Anne's  mother) 
thought  highly  of  her.  Catherine  Ashley,  who 
had  charge  of  her  next,  loved  her  and  was  her  de- 
voted servant,  friend  and  confidant  till  her  death. 

Thomas  Parry  her  life-long  friend  was  devoted 
to  her,  and  when  the  circumstances  of  their  respec- 
tive lives  and  the  happenings  of  the  time  kept  them 
apart,  she  restored  him  at  the  first  opportunity  and 
made  his  fortune  her  special  care. 

There  is  little  base  here  on  which  to  build  an  in- 
verted pyramid ;  our  only  safety  is  in  taking  things 
as  they  seem  to  be  and  using  common  sense. 

(b)     Changes 

Let  us  now  take  the  years  beginning  with  1544. 
From  this  time  on,  more  is  known  of  the  person- 
ality of  Elizabeth;  in  fact  there  is  little  unknown, 
that  is,  of  matters  of  fact,  and  to  this  only  we 
must  devote  ourselves.  Whatever  may  have  been 
Elizabeth's  motives  we  can  only  infer  them.  She 
was  a  secretive  person  and  took  few  into  her  con- 
fidence, unless  it  was  of  vital  necessity — and  then 
only  in  matters  required  by  the  circumstance.  The 
earliest  knowledge  we  have  of  this  second  period  of 
her  history  is  in  her  letter  to  Queen  Catherine 
(Parr)  written  from  St.  James'  Palace  on  31  July, 

In  the  year  which  had  elapsed  since  her  last  re- 


corded  letter  Elizabeth's  literary  style  had  entirely 
changed.  The  meagre  grudging  style  has  become 
elegant  and  even  florid  with  the  ornate  grace  and 
imagery  afforded  by  the  study  of  the  Latin  and 
French  tongues.  Altogether  there  is  not  merely 
a  more  accomplished  diction  but  there  is  behind  it 
a  truer  feeling  and  larger  sympathy.  It  is  more 
in  accord  with  the  letter  accompanying  the  gift  to 
the  Queen,  of  her  translation  of  the  Mirror  of  the 
Sinful  Soul  which  she  had  dedicated  to  her. 

Historians  have  given  various  rescripts  of  cer- 
tain earlier  letters  of  the  Princess  Elizabeth,  but 
none  of  them  seem  in  harmony  of  thought  with 
this,  whereas  it  is  quite  in  accord  with  her  later 
writings.  Metabolism  is  an  accepted  doctrine  of 
physiology ;  but  its  scope  is  not — as  yet  at  all  events 
— extended  to  the  intellect,  and  we  must  take 
things  as  we  find  them  within  the  limits  of  human 

It  will  perhaps  be  as  well  to  reserve  the  consid- 
eration of  any  other  point,  except  the  change  in 
actual  identity,  till  the  complete  analogy  of  all  nat- 
ural processes  is  an  established  fact. 

(c)     Her  personality 

We  have  no  letters  of  Princess  Elizabeth  before 
1543  which  are  not  open  to  grave  doubt  as  to  date, 
but  there  is  one  letter  to  which  allusion  must  al- 
most of  necessity  be  made.  It  is  a  letter  from 
Roger  Ascham,  tutor  to  the  Princess  Elizabeth,  to 


Mrs.  Ashley.  No  date  is  given  by  Mr.  Mumby, 
but  he  states  in  his  text  that  it  was  written  "dur- 
ing Grindal's  term  of  office"  as  tutor  to  the  Prin- 
cess. Mumby  quotes  from  the  Elizabeth  of  Miss 
Strickland,  who  in  turn  quotes  from  Whittaker's 
Richmondshire.  Now  Grindal's  term  of  office 
lasted  from  1546  (probably  the  end  of  that  year) 
till  it  was  cut  short  by  his  death  from  the  Plague 
in  1548,  so  that  he  could  not  have  known  his  royal 
pupil  before  1544.  The  text  of  the  letter  leads  a 
careful  reader  to  infer  that  it  was  written  after  that 
date.  The  important  part  of  the  letter  is  as  fol- 
lows : 

"...  the  thanks  you  have  deserved  from  that  noble 
imp  by  your  labour  and  wisdom  now  flourishing  in  all  goodly 
godliness.  ...  I  wish  her  Grace  (Elizabeth)  to  come  to 
that  end  in  perfectness  and  likelihood  of  her  wit  and  pain- 
lessness in  her  study,  true  trade  of  her  teaching,  which  your 
diligent  overseeing  doth  most  constantly  promise.  ...  I 
wish  all  increase  of  virtue  and  honour  to  that  my  good  lady, 
whose  wit,  good  Mrs.  Ashley,  I  beeseech  you  somewhat  favour. 
Blunt  edges  be  dull  and  dure  much  pain  to  little  profit;  the 
free  edge  is  soon  turned  if  it  be  not  handled  thereafter.  If 
you  pour  much  drink  at  once  into  a  goblet,  the  most  part  will 
dash  out  and  run  over;  if  ye  pour  it  softly  you  may  fill  it 
even  to  the  top,  and  so  her  Grace,  I  doubt  not,  by  little  and 
little  may  be  increased  in  learning,  that  at  length  greater 
cannot  be  required." 

If  this  letter  means  anything  at  all — which  in 
the  case  of  such  a  man  as  Roger  Ascham  is  not  to 
be  doubted — it  means  that  Mrs.  Ashley,  then  her 


governess,  was  cautioned  not  to  press  the  little  girl 
overmuch  in  her  lessons.  It  is  an  acknowledgment 
of  the  teacher's  zeal  as  well  as  affection,  and  in  the 
flowery  and  involved  style  of  the  period  and  the 
man,  illustrates  the  theory  by  pointing  out  the 
error  of  trying  to  fill  a  small  vessel  from  a  larger 
one  by  pouring  too  fast.  She  is  not  a  backward 
child,  he  says  in  effect,  but  go  slowly  with  her  edu- 
cation, you  cannot  give  full  learning  all  at  once. 

Compare  this  letter  with  that  of  the  same  writer 
to  John  Sturmius,  Rector  of  the  Protestant  Uni- 
versity of  Strasbourg,  on  the  same  subject  in  1550: 

"The  Lady  Elizabeth  has  accomplished  her  sixteenth  year; 
and  so  much  of  solidity  of  understanding,  such  courtesy  united 
with  dignity,  have  never  been  observed  at  so  early  an  age. 
She  has  the  most  ardent  love  of  true  religion  and  of  the  best 
kind  of  literature.  The  constitution  of  her  mind  is  exempt 
from  female  weakness,  and  she  is  endued  with  a  masculine 
power  of  application. 

"No  apprehension  can  be  quicker  than  hers,  no  memory 
more  retentive.  French  and  Italian  she  speaks  like  English; 
Latin  with  fluency,  propriety  and  judgment;  she  also  spoke 
Greek  with  me,  frequently,  willingly,  and  understanding  well. 
Nothing  can  be  more  elegant  than  her  handwriting,  whether 
in  the  Greek  or  Roman  character.  In  music  she  is  very  skil- 
ful but  does  not  greatly  delight.  With  respect  to  personal 
decoration,  she  greatly  prefers  a  simple  elegance  to  show  and 
splendour,  so  despising  the  outward  adorning  of  plaiting  the 
hair  and  of  wearing  of  gold,  that  in  the  whole  manner  of  her 
life  she  rather  resembles  Hippolyta  than  Phaedra." 

That  such  a  scholar  as  Roger  Ascham  makes  the 
simile  is  marked.     Hippolyta  was  a  Queen  of  the 


Amazons  and  Phaedra  was  an  almost  preternatu- 
rally  womanly  woman,  one  with  a  tragic  intensity 
of  passion. 

The  Elizabeth  whom  we  know  from  1544  to 
1603  certainly  had  brains  enough  to  protect  her 
neck.  In  1549  Sir  Robert  Tyrwhitt  wrote  to  the 
Protector  Somerset,  apropos  of  the  strenuous  ef- 
fort being  made  to  gain  from  her  some  admission 
damaging  to  herself  concerning  Thomas  Sey- 
mour's attempts  to  win  her  hand : 

"She  hath  a  very  pretty  wit  and  nothing  is  got- 
ten out  of  her  but  by  great  policy." 

In  a  letter  from  Simon  Renard  Ambassador  to 
the  Emperor  Charles  V  dated  London  September 
23,  1553,  there  is  incidentally  a  statement  regard- 
ing Elizabeth's  character  which  it  is  wise  to  hold  in 
mind  when  discussing  this  particular  period  of  her 
history.  Writing  of  Elizabeth's  first  attendance 
at  Mass  he  said:  "she,  Mary,  .  .  .  entreated 
Madame  Elizabeth  to  speak  freely  of  all  that  was 
on  her  conscience,  to  which  the  Princess  replied 
that  she  was  resolved  to  declare  publicly  that  in  go- 
ing to  Mass  as  in  all  else  that  she  had  done,  she 
had  only  obeyed  the  voice  of  her  conscience;  and 
that  she  had  acted  freely,  without  fear,  deceit,  or 
pretence.  We  have  since  been  told,  however,  that 
the  said  Lady  Elizabeth  is  very  timid,  and  that 
while  she  was  speaking  with  the  Queen  she  trem- 
bled very  much." 

Compare  with  this  the  letter  of  16th  March,  1554 


to  the  Queen  (Mary)  written  just  as  she  was  told 
to  go  to  the  Tower.  In  this  letter  which  is  beauti- 
fully written  and  with  not  a  trace  of  agitation  she 
protests  her  innocence  of  any  plot.  Her  mental 
attitude  was  thoroughly  borne  out  by  a  calm  dig- 
nity of  demeanour  which  is  more  in  accord  with 
male  than  female  nature.  In  very  fact  Elizabeth 
appears  all  her  life  since  1544  to  have  been  playing 
with  great  thoughtfulness  and  yet  dexterity  a 
diplomatic  game — acting  with  histrionic  subtlety 
a  part  which  she  had  chosen  advisedly. 

A  good  idea  of  the  personality  of  Elizabeth  dur- 
ing the  period  beginning  with  1544  may  be  had 
from  a  brief  consideration  of  the  risks  which  a  per- 
son taking  up  such  an  imposture  would  run,  first 
at  the  time  of  beginning  the  venture  and  then  of 
sustaining  the  undertaken  role.  At  the  outset  a 
boy  of  ten  or  eleven  would  not  think  of  taking  it 
seriously.  At  first  he  would  look  on  it  as  a  "lark" 
and  carry  out  the  idea  with  a  serious  energy  only 
known  in  play-time.  Later  thought  would  give  it 
a  new  charm  in  the  shape  of  danger.  This,  while 
adding  to  his  great  zest,  would  sober  him;  thence 
on  it  would  be  a  game — just  such  a  game  as  a  boy 
loves,  perpetual  struggle  to  get  the  best  of  some- 
one else.  To  some  natures  wit  against  wit  is  a 
better  strife  than  strength  against  strength,  and  if 
one  were  well  equipped  for  such  a  fray  the  game 
would  satisfy  the  ambition  of  his  years.  In  any 
case  when  once  such  a  game  was  entered  on,  the 


stake  would  be  his  own  head — a  consideration  which 
must  undoubtedly  make  for  strenuous  effort — even 
in  boyhood. 

The  task  which  would  have  followed — which  did 
follow  if  the  Bisley  story  is  true — would  have  been 
vastly  greater.     If  the  imposture  escaped  immedi- 
ate detection — which  is  easily  conceivable — a  new 
kind  of  endeavour  would  have  been  necessary;  one 
demanding  the  utmost  care  and  perpetual  vigilance 
in  addition  to  the  personal  qualities  necessary  for 
the  carrying  out  of  the  scheme.     Little  help  could 
be  given  to  the  young  boy  on  whom  rested  the 
weight  of  what  must  have  appeared  to  all  con- 
cerned in  it  a  stupendous  undertaking.     From  the 
nature  of  the  task,  which  was  one  which  even  the 
faintest  breath  of  suspicion  would  have  ruined,  the 
little  band,  originally  involved,  could  gain  no  as- 
sistance.    Safety  was  only  possible  by  the  main- 
tenance  of  the   most   rigid  secrecy.     All  around 
them  were  enemies  served  by  a  host  of  zealous  spies. 
If  then  the  story  be  true,  those  who  carried  such  an 
enterprising  situation  to  lasting  success,  must  have 
been  no  common  persons.     Let  us  suppose  for  a 
moment  that  the  story  was  true.     In  such  case  the 
Boy  of  Bisley  who  acted  the  part  of  the  Princess 
Elizabeth  could  have  had  only  two  assistants — as- 
sistants even  if  they  were  only  passive.     Whatever 
may  have  happened  we  know  from  history  that 
both   Mrs.   Ashley   and   Thomas   Parry   were   in- 
grainedly  loyal  to  Elizabeth,  as  she  was  to  them. 


For  convenience  we  shall  speak  of  the  substitute 
of  the  Princess  as  though  he  were  the  Princess  her- 
self whom  he  appeared  to  be,  and  for  whom  he  was 
accepted  thenceforth.  That  the  imposture — if 
there  was  one — succeeded  is  a  self-evident  fact;  for 
almost  sixty  years  there  was  no  question  raised  by 
any  person  of  either  sex  and  of  any  political  opin- 
ion. The  statecraft  of  England,  France,  the 
Papacy,  and  the  German  Empire  were  either  un- 
suspicious or  in  error — or  both.  It  is  reasonable  to 
imagine  that  a  person  of  strong  character  and 
active  intelligence  might  have  steered  deftly  be- 
tween these  variously  opposing  forces.  It  is  con- 
ceivable that  in  the  case  of  a  few  individuals  there 
might  have  been  stray  fragmentary  clouds  of  sus- 
picion; though  if  there  were  any  they  must  have 
come  to  those  who  were  held  to  a  consequent  in- 
activity by  other  dominating  causes.  We  shall 
have  occasion  presently  to  touch  on  this  subject  but 
in  the  meantime  we  must  accept  it  that  there  was 
no  opinion  expressed  by  any  one  in  such  a  way  as 
necessarily  to  provoke  action.  Of  course  after  a 
time  even  suspicion  became  an  impossibility.  Here 
was  a  young  girl  growing  into  womanhood  whom 
all  around  her  had  known  all  her  life — or  what  was 
equivalent — believed  they  had.  It  is  only  now 
after  three  centuries  that  we  can  consider  who  it 
wps  that  formed  the  tally  of  those  who  knew  the 
personality  of  Elizabeth  during  both  periods  of  her 
youth,  that  up  to  1543-4  and  that  which  followed. 


Henry  VIII  manifestly  not  only  had  no  doubt  on 
the  subject  but  no  thought.  If  he  had  had  he  was 
just  the  man  to  have  settled  it  at  once.  Anne 
Boleyn  was  dead,  so  was  her  predecessor  in  title. 
Anne  of  Cleves  had  accepted  the  annulment  of  her 
marriage — and  a  pension.  Jane  Seymour  and 
Catherine  Howard  were  both  dead.  Nearly  all 
those  who  as  nurses,  governesses,  or  teachers,  Lady 
Bryan,  Richard  Croke,  William  Grindal,  Roger 
Ascham,  who  knew  the  first  period  were  dead  or 
had  retired  into  other  spheres.  Those  who  re- 
mained knowing  well  the  individuality  of  the  Prin- 
cess and  representing  both  periods  were  Mrs. 
Ashley,  Thomas  Parry  and  the  Queen  (later  dow- 
ager) Catherine  Parr. 

We  know  already  of  the  faithfulness  of  the  two 
former,  the  man  who  was  a  clever  as  well  as  a  faith- 
ful servant,  and  the  woman,  who  having  no  chil- 
dren of  her  own,  took  to  her  heart  the  little  child 
entrusted  to  her  care  and  treated  her  with  such 
affectionate  staunchness — a  staunchness  which  has 
caused  more  than  one  historian  to  suspect  that  there 
was  some  grave  secret  between  them  which  linked 
their  fortunes  together. 

As  to  Catherine  Parr  we  are  able  to  judge  from 
her  letters  that  she  was  fond  of  her  step-daughter 
and  was  consistently  kind  to  her.  Those  who 
choose  to  study  the  matter  further  can  form  an 
opinion  of  their  own  from  certain  recorded  episodes 
which,  given  without  any  elucidating  possibilities 


leave  the  historians  in  further  doubt.  Leti  puts  in 
his  Life,  under  the  date  of  1543,  "before  her  mar- 
riage to  Henry,  Catherine  Parr  had  seen  often 
Elizabeth  and  admired  her."  The  Italian  historian 
may  have  had  some  authority  for  the  statement; 
but  also  it  may  have  been  taken  from  some  state- 
ment made  by  Elizabeth  in  later  years  or  by  some 
person  in  her  interest,  to  create  a  misleading  belief. 
In  any  case  let  us  accept  the  statement  as  a  matter 
of  fact.  If  so  it  may  throw  a  light  on  another 
branch  of  this  eternal  and  diverse  mystery. 
Martin  Hume  and  F.  A.  Mumby  approaching  the 
subject  from  different  points  confess  themselves 
puzzled  by  Elizabeth's  attitude  to  men.  The  for- 
mer writes  in  his  Courtships  of  Queen  Elizabeth: 

"No  one  can  look  at  the  best  portraits  of  Elizabeth  without 
recognising  at  a  glance  that  she  was  not  a  sensual  woman. 
The  lean,  austere  face,  the  tight  thin  lips,  the  pointed  delicate 
chin,  the  cold  dull  eyes,  tell  of  a  character  the  very  opposite 
of  lascivious." 

Mr.  Mumby  writing  about  Mrs.  Ashley's  "Con- 
fession" and  of  the  horse-play  between  Elizabeth 
and  Lord  Seymour  (whom  Queen  Catherine  had 
married  immediately  after  the  King's  death)  makes 
this  remark: 

"The  most  surprising  thing  about  this  behaviour  is  that  the 
Queen  should  have  encouraged  it." 

There  is  plenty  of  room  for  wonder,  considering 
that  Admiral  Seymour  had  earlier  wanted  to  marry 


Elizabeth.  But  Catherine  was  a  clever  woman, 
who  had  already  had  three  husbands — Seymour 
was  her  fourth — and  children.  If  any  one  would 
see  through  a  boy's  disguise  as  a  girl  she  was  the 
one.  It  is  hard  to  imagine  that  Seymour's  wife 
had  not  good  cause  for  some  form  revenge  on 
him  of  whom  Hallam  speaks  of  as  a  "dangerous 
and  unprincipled  man"  and  of  whom  Latimer  said 
"he  was  a  man  farthest  from  the  fear  of  God  that 
ever  I  knew  or  heard  of  in  England"  as  it  was  be- 
lieved at  the  time  of  her  death  that  he  had  poisoned 
his  wife,  the  Queen  dowager,  to  make  way  for  a 
marriage  with  Elizabeth,  with  whom  according  to 
common  belief  he  was  still  in  love,  it  would  be  only 
natural  that  a  woman  of  her  disposition  and  with 
her  sense  of  humour,  shoulcl  revenge  herself  in  a 
truly  wifely  way  by  using  for  the  purpose,  with- 
out betraying  the  secret,  her  private  knowledge 
or  belief  of  the  quasi-princess's  real  sex.  Such 
would  afford  an  infinite  gratification  to  an  ill-used 
wife  jealous  of  so  vain  a  husband. 

We  now  come  to  the  crux  of  the  whole  story — 
the  touchstone  of  this  strange  eventful  history. 
Could  there  have  been  such  a  boy  as  is  told  of; 
one  answering  to  the  many  conditions  above  shown 
to  be  vitally  necessary  for  the  carrying  out  of  such 
a  scheme  of  imposture.  The  answer  to  this  ques- 
tion is  distinctly  in  the  affirmative;  there  could  have 
been  such  a  boy ;  had  the  Duke  of  Richmond  been 
born  fourteen  or  fifteen  years  earlier  than  he  was, 


the  difficulties  of  appearance,  intellect,  education, 
and  other  qualifications  need  not  have  presented 

If  the  question  to  be  asked  is:  "Was  there  such 
a  boy?"  the  answer  cannot  be  so  readily  given.  In 
the  meantime  there  are  some  considerations  from 
the  study  of  which — or  through  which — an  answer 
may,  later,  be  derived. 


The  Duke  of  Richmond 

The  points  which  must  be  settled  before  we  can 
solve  the  mystery  of  the  Bisley  Boy  are: 

(1)  Was  there  such  an  episode  regarding  the 
early  life  of  the  Princess  Elizabeth? 

(2)  Was  there  such  a  boy  as  was  spoken  of? 

(3)  How  could  such  an  imposture  have  been 
carried  out,  implying  as  it  did — 

(a)  A  likeness  to  the  Princess  so  extraordinary 
as  not  to  have  created  suspicion  in  the  mind  of 
anyone  not  already  in  the  plot. 

(b)  An  acquaintance  with  the  circumstances  of 
the  life  of  the  Princess  sufficiently  accurate  to  ward 
off  incipient  suspicion  caused  by  any  overlooking 
or  neglect  of  necessary  conditions. 

(c)  An  amount  of  education  and  knowledge 
equal  to  that  held  by  a  child  of  ten  to  twelve  years 
of  age  who  had  been  taught  by  some  of  the  most 
learned  persons  of  the  time. 



(d)  A  skill  in  classics  and  foreign  tongues  only 
known  amongst  high  scholars  and  diplomatists. 

(e)  An  ease  of  body  and  a  courtliness  of  man- 
ner and  bearing  utterly  foreign  to  any  not  bred  in 
the  higher  circles  of  social  life. 

If  there  could  be  found  a  boy  answering  such 
conditions — one  whose  assistance  could  be  had  with 
facility  and  safety — then  the  solution  is  possible, 
even  if  not  susceptible  of  the  fullest  proof.  Fol- 
lowing the  lines  of  argument  hitherto  used  in  this 
book,  let  us  first  consider  reasons  why  such  an 
argument  is  tenable.  I  may  then  perhaps  be 
allowed  to  launch  the  theory  which  has  come  to  me 
during  this  investigation. 

(a)     His  Birth  and  Appearance 

A  part — and  no  small  part — of  the  bitterness  of 
Henry  VIII  in  not  having  a  son  to  succeed  him 
was  that,  though  he  had  a  son,  such  could  not  by 
the  existing  law  succeed  him  on  the  throne. 

Nearly  ten  years  after  his  marriage  to  Cath- 
erine of  Aragon  and  after  a  son  and  other 
children  had  been  born  to  them,  all  of  whom  had 
died  shortly  after  birth,  Henry  had  in  the  manner 
of  mediaeval  kings — and  others — entered  on  a  love 
affair,  the  object  of  his  illicit  affection  being  one 
of  the  ladies-in-waiting  to  Queen  Catherine,  Eliza- 
beth, daughter  of  John  Blount  of  Knevet,  Shrop- 

The  story  of  this  love  affair  is  thus  given  in 


quaint  old  English  in  Grafton's  Chronicle  first 
published  in  1569  which  covers  the  period  from 
1189  to  1558: 

"You  shall  understande,  the  King  in  his  freshe  youth  was 
in  the  cheynes  of  love  with  a  faire  damosell  called  Elizabeth 
Blunt,  daughter  of  Syr  John  Blunt  Knight,  which  damosell 
in  synging,  daunsing,  and  in  all  goodly  pastimes,  excelled 
all  other,  by  the  which  goodly  pastimes,  she  wanne  the  king's 
hart:  and  she  againe  shewed  him  such  favour  that  by  him  she 
bare  a  goodly  man  childe,  of  beautie  like  to  the  father  and 
mother.  This  child  was  well  brought  up  lyke  a  Princes 

(b)     His  Upbringing  and  Marriage 

This  son  of  an  unlawful  union — born  in  1519 
it  is  said — was  called  Henry  Fitzroy  after  the  cus- 
tom applicable  in  such  cases  to  the  natural  children 
of  kings.  Naturally  enough  his  royal  father  took 
the  greatest  interest  in  this  child  and  did,  whilst 
the  latter  lived,  all  in  his  power  to  further  his  in- 
terests. A  mere  list  of  the  honours  conferred  on 
him  during  his  short  life  will  afford  some  clue 
to  the  King's  intention  of  his  further  advancement, 
should  occasion  serve.  The  shower  of  favours  be- 
gan in  1525  when  the  child,  as  is  said,  was  only 
six  years  of  age.  On  the  18th  of  June  of  this  year 
he  was  created  Earl  of  Nottingham  and  Duke  of 
Richmond  and  Somerset,  with  precedence  over  all 
dukes  except  those  of  the  King's  lawful  issue.  He 
was  also  made  a  Knight  of  the  Garter — of  which 
exalted  Order  he  was  raised  to  the  Lieutenancy 


eight  years  later.  He  was  also  nominated  to  other 
high  offices:  the  King's  Lieutenant  General  for 
districts  north  of  the  Trent ;  and  Keeper  of  the  city 
and  fortress  of  Carlisle.  To  these  posts  were 
added  those  of  Lord  High  Admiral  of  England, 
Wales,  Ireland,  Normandy,  Gascony  and  Aqui- 
taine;  Warden  General  of  the  Marches  of  Scot- 
land, and  Receiver  of  Middleham  and  of  Sheriff 
Hutton,  Yorkshire.  He  was  also  given  an  income 
of  four  thousand  pounds  sterling  per  annum.  In 
1529,  being  then  only  ten  years  of  age,  he  was  also 
made  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland,  Constable  of 
Dover  Castle  and  Warden  of  the  Cinque  Ports — 
three  of  the  most  important  offices  of  the  Nation. 
A  few  months  before  his  death  in  1536  there  was  a 
general  understanding  that  Henry  VIII  intended 
to  make  him  King  of  Ireland  and  possibly  to  nom- 
inate him  as  his  successor  on  the  throne  of  Eng- 
land. That  some  such  intention  was  in  Henry's 
mind  was  shown  by  the  Succession  Act  passed  just 
before  the  close  of  the  Parliament  which  was  dis- 
solved in  1536.  In  this  Act  it  is  fixed  that  the 
Crown  is  to  devolve  on  the  King's  death  to  the  son 
of  Jane  Seymour  and  in  default  of  issue  by  him, 
on  Mary  and  Elizabeth  in  succession  in  case  of  lack 
of  issue  by  the  former.  In  the  event  of  their  both 
dying  before  the  King  and  without  issue  he  is  to 
appoint  by  will  his  successor  on  the  throne. 

The  various  important  posts  conferred  on  the 
young  Duke  of  Richmond  were  evidently  prepa- 


rations  for  the  highest  post  of  all,  which  in  default 
of  legitimate  issue  of  his  own  legitimate  children 
he  intended  to  confer  on  him. 

The  education  which  was  given  to  the  little  Duke 
is  of  especial  interest  and  ought  in  the  present  con- 
nection to  be  carefully  studied.  It  was  under  the 
care  of  Richard  Croke,  celebrated  for  his  scholar- 
ship; who  in  the  modern  branch  was  assisted  by 
John  Palsgrave  the  author  of  the  earliest  English 
grammar  of  the  French  language  " Lesclarcisse- 
ment  de  la  langue  Francoyse."  In  spite  of  the 
opposition  of  his  household  the  Duke  of  Richmond 
devoted  his  young  life  to  study  rather  than  to  arms. 
Whilst  still  a  young  boy  he  had  already  read  a 
part  of  Ccesar,  Virgil  and  Terence,  knew  a  little 
Greek,  and  was  fairly  skilful  in  music — singing 
and  playing  on  the  virginals.  There  was  much 
talk  in  Court  circles  as  to  whom  he  should  marry 
and  many  ladies  of  high  degree  were  named.  One 
was  a  niece  of  Pope  Clement  VII;  another  was  a 
Danish  princess ;  still  another  a  princess  of  France ; 
also  a  daughter  of  Eleanor,  dowager  Queen  of 
Portugal,  a  sister  of  Charles  V.  This  lady  was 
afterwards  Queen  of  France. 

Early  in  1532  the  Duke  resided  for  a  while  at 
Hatfield.  Then  he  went  to  Paris  with  his  friend 
the  Earl  of  Surrey,  son  of  the  Duke  of  Norfolk. 
There  he  remained  till  September,  1533.  On  his 
return  to  England  he  married  by  special  dispensa- 
tion, on  25  November,  1533,  Mary  Howard,  daugh- 


ter  of  the  Duke  of  Norfolk  by  his  second  marriage 
and  sister  of  Surrey.  Incidentally  he  is  said  to 
have  been  present  at  the  beheading  of  Queen  Anne 
(Boleyn) ,  May  19,  1536.  He  did  not  long  survive 
the  last-named  exhibition,  for  some  two  months 
later — 22  July,  1536,  he  died.  There  was  at  the 
time  a  suspicion  that  he  had  been  poisoned  by  Eord 
Rochford,  brother  of  Queen  Anne   (Boleyn). 

Henry  Duke  of  Richmond  and  Somerset  had  no 
legal  issue.  As  a  matter  of  fact  though  he  was 
married  in  1533,  nearly  three  years  before  his  death, 
he  never  lived  with  his  wife.  It  was  said  that 
he  was  not  only  young  for  matrimony,  being  only 
seventeen;  but  was  in  very  bad  health.  It  was  in- 
tended that  after  his  marriage  he  should  go  to  Ire- 
land; but  on  account  of  the  state  of  his  health  that 
journey  was  postponed — as  it  turned  out,  for  ever. 

A  light  on  this  ill-starred  marriage  is  thrown  in 
the  quaint  words  of  another  chronicler  of  the  time, 
Charles  Wriothesley,  who  wrote  of  the  time  be- 
tween 1485  and  1559. 

"But  the  said  younge  duke  had  never  layne  by  his  wife, 
and  so  she  is  maide,  wife,  and  now  a  widowe;  I  praie  God 
send  her  now  good  fortune." 

In  this  summarised  history  certain  points  are  to  be 
noticed : 

(1)  The  Duke  of  Richmond  was  like  his  father 
(Henry  VIII)  and  his  mother  who  was  "fayre." 

(2)  A  Dispensation  was  obtained  for  his  mar- 


riage  to  Lady  Mary  Howard  which  took  place  in 
1533  but  with  whom  he  never  cohabited. 

There  is  a  side-light  here  of  the  hereditary  aspect 
of  the  case.  Both  the  Duke  and  Duchess  of  Rich- 
mond were  "fayre,"  and  in  the  language  of  the  old 
chroniclers  "fayre"  means  blonde.  Wintown  for 
instance  speaking  of  Macbeth's  supposed  descent 
from  the  Devil  says: 

"Gottyne  he  was  on  ferly  wys 

"Hys  Modyr  to  woddis  mad  oft  repayre 

"For  the  delyte  of  halesum  ayre. 

"Swa,  scho  past  a-pon  a  day 

"Tyl  a  Wod,  hyr  for  to  play: 

"Scho  met  at  eas  with  a  fayr  man." 

And  Grafton  thus  speaks  under  date  7  Septem- 
ber 1533  of  Elizabeth's  birth:  "The  Queen  was  de- 
livered of  a  fayre  Lady." 

Now  Anne  Boleyn  is  described  as  small  and 
lively,  a  brunette  with  black  hair  and  beautiful 
eyes,  and  yet  her  daughter  is  given  as  red-haired 
by  all  the  painters. 

It  is  somewhat  difficult  to  make  out  the  true  col- 
ours of  persons.  For  instance  Giovanni  Michiel 
writing  to  the  Venetian  Senate  in  1557  puts  in  his 
description  of  Elizabeth  "She  is  tall  and  well 
formed,  with  a  good  skin,  although  swarthy"  but 
in  the  same  page  he  says  "she  prides  herself  on  her 
father  and  glories  in  him ;  everybody  is  saying  that 
she  also  resembles  him  more  than  the  Queen 
[Mary]    does."     As   to   the   introduction   of   the 


word  "swarthy"  as  above;  it  may  have  been  one  of 
the  tricks  of  Elizabeth  to  keep  the  Venetian  am- 
bassador from  knowing  too  much  or  getting  any 
ground  for  guessing.  If  so  it  looks  rather  like 
Elizabeth  concealing  her  real  identity — which 
would  be  an  argument  in  favour  of  an  imposture; 
if  she  was  the  real  princess  there  would  be  no  need 
for  concealment. 

It  is  only  common  sense  to  expect,  if  the 
paternal  element  was  so  strong  in  Henry  as  to 
reproduce  in  offspring  his  own  colour,  that  had 
the  Duke  of  Richmond  had  any  issue  especially 
by  a  fair  wife  it  too  would  have  inherited  some- 
thing of  the  family  colour.  Holbein's  picture  of 
the  "Lady  of  Richmond,"  as  the  Duke's  wife  was 
called,  shows  her  as  a  fair  woman. 

These  are  two  points  to  be  here  borne  in  mind; 
that  Henry  VIII  was  probably  bald,  for  in  none 
of  his  pictures  is  any  hair  visible.  It  would  hardly 
be  polite  to  infer  that  Elizabeth  wore  a  wig  for 
the  same  reason.  But  it  is  recorded  that  she  always 
travelled  with  a  stock  of  them — no  less  than  eighty 
of  various  colours. 

But  there  are  other  indications  of  such  conceal- 
ment. Why  for  instance  did  she  object  to  see  doc- 
tors? So  long  as  she  was  free  and  could  control 
them  she  did  not  mind;  but  whilst  she  was  under 
duress  they  were  a  source  of  danger.  Perhaps  it 
is  this  which  accounts  for  her  taking  the  Sacra- 
ment on  26  August,  1554  when  she  was  practically 


a  prisoner  at  Woodstock  in  the  keeping  of  Sir 
Henry  Bedingfield.  About  the  third  week  in  June 
the  Princess  asked  Sir  Henry  to  be  allowed  to  have 
a  doctor  sent  to  her.  He  in  turn  applied  to  the 
Council  who  made  answer  on  the  25th  that  the 
Queen's  Oxford  physician  was  ill  and  Mr.  Wendy 
was  absent  and  the  remaining  one,  Mr.  Owen,  could 
not  be  spared.  The  latter  however  recommended 
two  Oxford  doctors,  Barnes  and  Walbec,  in  case 
she  should  care  to  see  either  of  them.  On  July  4th 
Sir  Henry  reported  to  the  Council  that  Elizabeth 
in  politely  declining  said:  "I  am  not  minded  to 
make  any  stranger  privy  to  the  state  of  my  body, 
but  commit  it  to  God."  Then,  when  through  her 
submission  to  the  Queen's  religious  convictions  she 
had  obtained  her  liberty,  she  took  no  more  concern 
in  the  matter. 

The  Duchess  of  Richmond 

Thomas  Howard,  Duke  of  Norfolk,  married 
twice.  His  second  wife  was  the  lady  Elizabeth 
Stafford,  eldest  daughter  of  the  Duke  of  Bucking- 
ham, and  he  had  issue  by  both  marriages.  In  1533 
the  only  surviving  daughter  of  the  second  marriage 
was  Mary,  who  was  thus  the  Lady  Mary  Howard, 
sister  of  the  Earl  of  Surrey.  It  was  this  lady  with 
whom  the  uncompleted  marriage  of  the  Duke  of 
Richmond  took  place.  Doubtless  they  were  early 
friends.  In  her  youth  she  used  to  spend  the  sum- 
mer at  Tendring  Hall,  Suffolk,  and  the  winter 



at  Hunsdon,  Hertfordshire,  where  was  one  of 
Henry's  palaces ;  in  addition  Henry  was  one  of  the 
closest  companions  of  her  brother,  the  Earl  of  Sur- 
rey. Lady  Richmond's  part  in  the  historical  epi- 
sode before  us  is  hardly  direct.  It  only  comes  in 
through  two  circumstances  not  unattended  with 
mystery.  It  is  not  necessary  that  the  two  were 
correlated;  but  no  student  can  get  away  from  the 
idea  that  there  was  some  connection  between  them, 
especially  when  there  is  another  inference  bearing 
on  the  subject  with  reference  to  the  second  mar- 
riage of  the  Duchess.  This  took  place  after  an 
interval  of  some  years  to  Gilbert,  son  of  Sir  George 
Talboys  of  Goloths,  Lincolnshire.  The  name  of 
the  second  husband  is  variously  spelled  in  the 
chronicles  as  Tailboise  or  Talebuse.  She  died  in 
the  year  before  Elizabeth  came  to  the  throne.  The 
two  things  to  examine  closely  with  regard  to  this 
marriage  to  the  Duke  of  Richmond  were  the  Dis- 
pensation for  the  marriage  (together  with  the  date 
of  it),  and  its  non-fulfilment.  The  Dispensation 
was  dated  28  November,  1533,  but  the  marriage 
took  place  three  days  earlier.  Whether  this  dis- 
crepancy had  anything  to  do  with  her  later  mar- 
riage to  Talboys  we  can  only  guess — unless  of 
course  more  exhaustive  search  can  produce  some 
document,  unknown  as  yet,  which  may  throw  light 
on  the  subject.  It  is  a  matter  of  no  light  mystery 
why  a  Dispensation  was  obtained  at  such  a  time 
and  by  whom  it  was  effected.     At  this  time  Henry 


VIII  was  engaged  in  the  bitterest  struggle  of  his 
life,  that  regarding  the  supremacy  of  the  Pope,  so 
that  it  was  a  direct  violation  of  his  policy  to  have 
asked  for,  or  even  to  recognise  such  a  Dispensation 
in  the  case  of  his  own  son  whom  he  intended  to 
succeed  him  as  King.  Before  a  year  had  passed 
he  had  actually  thrown  over  the  Papal  authority 
altogether,  and  had  taken  into  his  own  hands  the 
headship  of  the  National  Church.  What  then  was 
behind  such  a  maladroit  action?  If  it  had  been 
done  as  a  piece  of  statecraft — the  ostensible  show- 
ing that  there  was  as  yet  no  direct  rupture  between 
the  British  Nation  and  the  Papacy — it  would  have 
lost  its  efficacy  if  it  might  be  cited  as  a  Court 
favour  rather  than  a  national  right.  Moreover,  as 
it  was  to  sanction  by  then  existing  canonical  law 
a  marriage  of  Henry's  son  with  a  daughter  of  the 
head  of  the  most  powerful  Catholic  House  in  Eng- 
land, it  could  not  be  expected  that  Borne  would 
not  use  this  in  its  strife  for  the  continuation  of  its 
supremacy.  If  Henry  was  directly  concerned  in 
the  matter,  it  was  bad  policy  and  unlike  him  to  con- 
ciliate Catholicism  by  a  yielding  on  the  part  of  one 
who  would  be  in  the  future  the  Head  of  the  Re- 
formed Church.  Altogether  it  leaves  one  under 
the  impression  that  there  must  have  been  a  more 
personal  cause  than  any  yet  spoken  of.  Some- 
thing to  be  covered  up,  or  from  which  suspicion 
should  be  averted.  There  was  already  quite  enough 
material  for  a  controversy  in  case  Henry  Fitzroy 


should  come  to  the  throne  and  it  might  be  well  to 
minimise  any  further  risk.  But  in  such  case  what 
was  there  to  be  covered  up  or  from  which  suspicion 
should  be  averted?  Already  Richmond  held  under 
his  father  all  the  threads  of  government  in  his  own 
hand.  If  he  ever  should  need  to  tighten  them  it 
would  be  done  by  himself  as  ruler.  There  must 
still  be  some  reason  which  must  be  kept  secret  and 
of  which  Henry  himself  did  not  and  must  not 
know.  Beyond  this  again  was  the  question  of  the 
personal  ambition  of  "Bluff  King  Hal."  It  was 
not  sufficient  for  him  that  a  barren  heir  should 
succeed  him — even  if  that  heir  was  his  own  son. 
He  wanted  to  found  a  dynasty,  and  if  he  suspected 
for  an  instant  that  after  all  his  plotting  and  striv- 
ing— all  his  titanic  efforts  to  overcome  such  ob- 
stacles as  nations  and  religions — his  hopes  might 
fail  through  lack  of  issue  on  his  son's  part  he  would 
cease  to  waste  his  time  and  efforts  on  his  behalf. 
It  is  almost  impossible  to  imagine  that  the  Duke  of 
Richmond  had  not  had  some  love  affairs — if  in- 
deed he  was  only  seventeen  (of  which  there  is  a 
doubt) — it  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  both  the 
Lancastrians  and  the  Yorkists  who  united  in  the 
Tudor  stock  matured  early.  On  both  his  father's 
and  mother's  side  Henry  Fitzroy  was  of  a  pleas- 
ure-loving, voluptuous  nature,  and  as  the  masculine 
element  predominated  in  his  make-up  there  is  not 
any  great  stretch  of  imagination  required  to  be 
satisfied  that  there  was  some  young  likeness  of  him 


toddling  or  running  about.  But  in  a  case  like  his 
masculine  mis-doing  does  not  count ;  it  is  only  where 
a  woman's  credit  is  at  stake  that  secrecy  is  a  vital 
necessity.  We  must  therefore  look  to  the  female 
side  to  find  a  cause  for  any  mystery  which  there 
may  be.  So  far  as  a  boy  of  the  right  age  is  con- 
cerned with  a  decided  likeness  to  Henry  VIII  it 
would  not  have  required  much  searching  about  to 
lay  hands  on  a  suitable  one. 

But  here  a  new  trouble  would  begin.  It  would 
be  beyond  nature  to  expect  that  any  mother  would 
consent,  especially  at  a  moment's  notice,  to  her  child 
running  such  a  risk  as  the  substitute  of  the  dead 
Princess  Elizabeth  was  taking,  without  some  kind 
of  assurance  or  guarantee  of  his  safety.  More- 
over, if  there  were  other  relatives,  they  would  be 
sure  to  know,  and  some  of  them  to  make  trouble 
unless  their  mouths  were  closed.  Practically  the 
only  chance  of  carrying  such  an  enterprise  through 
would  be  if  the  substitute  were  an  orphan  or  in  a 
worse  position — one  whose  very  life  was  an  embar- 
rassment to  those  to  whom  it  should  be  most  dear. 

Here  opens  a  field  for  romantic  speculation. 
Such  need  not  clash  with  history  which  is  a  record 
of  fact.  Call  it  romance  if  we  will;  indeed  until 
we  have  more  perfect  records  we  must.  If  inven- 
tion is  to  be  called  in  to  the  aid  of  deduction  no  one 
can  complain  if  these  two  methods  of  exercise  of 
intellect  are  kept  apart  and  the  boundaries  between 
them  are  duly  charted.     Any  speculation  beyond 


this  can  be  only  regarded  as  belonging  to  the  region 
of  pure  fiction. 

In  one  way  there  is  a  duty  which  the  reader  must 
not  shirk,  if  only  on  his  own  account :  not  to  refuse 
to  accept  facts  without  due  consideration.  Wildly 
improbable  as  the  Bisley  story  is,  it  is  not  impos- 
sible. Whoever  says,  offhand,  that  such  a  story 
is  untrue  on  the  face  of  it  ought  to  study  the 
account  of  a  death  reported  at  Colchester  in  Essex 
just  a  hundred  years  ago.  A  servant  died  who 
had  been  in  the  same  situation  as  housemaid  and 
nurse  for  thirty  years.  But  only  after  death  was 
the  true  sex  of  the  apparent  woman  discovered. 
It  was  masculine ! 

Here  I  must  remind  such  readers  as  honour  my 
work  with  their  attention  that  I  am  venturing 
merely  to  tell  a  tradition  sanctioned  by  long  time, 
and  that  I  only  give  as  comments  historical  facts 
which  may  be  tested  by  any  student.  I  have  in- 
vented and  shall  invent  nothing;  and  only  claim 
the  same  right  which  I  have  in  common  with  every 
one  else — that  of  forming  my  own  opinion. 

Here  it  is  that  we  may  consider  certain  additions 
to  the  original  Bisley  tradition.  How  these  are 
connected  with  the  main  story  is  impossible  to  say 
after  the  lapse  of  centuries;  but  in  all  probability 
there  is  a  basis  of  ancient  belief  in  all  that  has 
been  added.  The  following  items  cover  the  addi- 
tional ground. 


When  the  governess  wished  to  hide  the  secret 
hurriedly,  she  hid  the  body,  intending  it  to  be  only 
temporarily,  in  the  stone  coffin  which  lay  in  the 
garden  at  Overcourt  outside  the  Princess's  window. 

Some  tens  of  years  ago  the  bones  of  a  young 
girl  lying  amidst  rags  of  fine  clothing  were  found 
in  the  stone  coffin. 

The  finder  was  a  churchman — a  man  of  the  high- 
est character  and  a  member  of  a  celebrated  eccle- 
siastical family. 

The  said  finder  firmly  believed  in  the  story  of 
the  Bisley  Boy. 

Before  Elizabeth  came  to  the  throne  all  those 
who  knew  the  secret  of  the  substitution  were  in 
some  way  got  rid  of  or  their  silence  assured. 

The  name  of  the  substituted  youth  was  Neville; 
or  such  was  the  name  of  the  family  with  whom  he 
was  living  at  the  time. 

There  are  several  persons  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  Bisley  who  accept  the  general  truth  of  the  story 
even  if  some  of  the  minor  details  appear  at  first 
glance  to  be  inharmonious.  These  persons  are  not 
of  the  ordinary  class  of  gossipers,  but  men  and 
women  of  light  and  leading  who  have  fixed  places 
in  the  great  world  and  in  the  social  life  of  their 
own  neighbourhood.  With  some  of  them  the  truth 
of  the  story  is  an  old  belief  which  makes  a  tie  with 
any  new  investigator. 


The  Unfulfilled  Marriage 

The  remaining'  point  to  touch  on  is  the  unfulfilled 
marriage  of  the  Duke  of  Richmond.  This  cer- 
tainly needs  some  explanation,  or  else  the  mystery; 
remains  dark  as  ever. 

Here  we  have  two  young  persons  of  more  than 
fair  presence,  and  graced  with  all  the  endearing 
qualities  that  the  mind  as  well  as  the  eye  can  grasp. 
We  have  the  assurance  of  Chronicles  regarding 
Henry  Fitzroy;  and  from  Holbein's  picture  we 
can  judge  for  ourselves  of  the  lady's  merits.  They 
are  both  well-to-do.  The  lady,  one  of  title,  daugh- 
ter of  one  of  the  most  prominent  Dukes  in  Eng- 
land, the  man  then  holding  many  of  the  most 
important  posts  in  the  State,  and  with  every  expec- 
tation of  wearing  in  due  course  the  purple  of  roy- 
alty. They  both  come  of  families  of  which  other 
members  have  been  notorious  for  amatory  episodes ; 
voluptuousness  is  in  their  blood.  They  have  been 
old  friends — and  yet  when  they  marry  they  at  once 
separate,  she  going  to  her  own  folk  and  he  to 
Windsor.  Seemingly  they  do  not  meet  again  in  the 
two  and  a  half  years  that  elapse  before  his  death. 
The  story  about  his  youth  and  health  preventing 
cohabitation  is  all  moonshine.  The  affair  points 
to  the  likelihood  of  some  ante-matrimonial  liaison 
of  which,  as  yet,  we  know  nothing.  Applying  the 
experiences  of  ordinary  life  in  such  cases,  we  can 
easily  believe  that  Mary  Howard,  egged  on  by  her 


unscrupulous  and  ambitiously-intriguing  brother, 
was  for  ulterior  purposes  either  forced  or  helped 
into  an  intrigue  with  the  young  Duke.  There  is  no 
doubt  that  Surrey  was  unscrupulous  enough  for  it. 
A  similar  design  on  his  part — only  infinitely  more 
base — cost  him  his  head.  He  had  tried  to  induce 
his  sister,  Duchess  of  Richmond,  to  become  mis- 
tress of  Henry  VIII — her  own  father-in-law! — so 
that  she  might  have  power  over  him;  and  it  does 
not  seem  that  there  was  any  wonderful  indignation 
on  the  part  of  the  lady  at  the  shameful  proposal. 
We  are  told  that  when  Sir  John  Gates  and 
Sir  Richard  Southwell,  the  royal  Commission- 
ers for  examining  witnesses  in  the  case  of  the 
charge  of  treason  against  the  Duke  of  Nor- 
folk and  the  Earl  of  Surrey,  arrived  at  Ken- 
ninghall  in  the  early  morning  and  made  known 
their  general  purposes  in  coming,  the  Duchess  of 
Richmond  "almost  fainted."  But  all  the  same 
when  she  knew  more  exactly  what  they  wanted  she 
promised  without  any  forcing  to  tell  all  she  knew. 
As  a  matter  of  fact  her  evidence  (with  that  of 
Elizabeth  Holland,  the  mistress  of  the  Duke  of 
Norfolk) ,  whilst  it  helped  to  get  Norfolk  off,  aided 
in  condemning  Surrey.  There  must  have  been 
some  other  cause  for  her  consternation.  She  had 
been  bred  up  in  the  midst  of  intrigues,  polemical 
and  dynastic  as  well  as  of  personal  ambition,  and 
was  well  inured  to  keeping  her  countenance  as  well 
as  her  head  in  moments  of  stress.     The  cause  of 


her  "almost  fainting"  must  have  been  something 
which  concerned  her  even  more  nearly  than  either 
father  or  brother.  It  could  only  have  been  fear 
for  her  child  or  herself — or  for  both.  It  is  possible 
that  she  dreaded  discovery  of  some  sort.  Omne 
ignotum  pro  magnifico.  Suspicion  has  long  flex- 
ible tentacula,  with  eyes  and  ears  at  the  end  of 
them,  which  can  penetrate  everywhere  and  see  and 
hear  everything.  She  knew  how  to  dread  suspicion 
and  to  fear  the  consequences  which  must  result 
from  inquiry  or  investigation  of  any  sort.  If  she 
had  had  a  child  it  must  have  been  kept  hidden,  and 
if  possible  far  away — as  the  unknown  Boy  was 
at  Bisley.  Indeed  the  Howards  had  immense  fam- 
ily ramifications  and  several  of  them  had  collateral 
relationships  in  and  about  Bisley.  There  were 
Nevilles  there,  and  doubtless  some  of  them  were 
poor  relations  relegated  to  the  far  away  place  where 
living  was  cheap  and  where  they  might  augment 
their  tenuous  incomes  by  taking  in  even  poorer 
relations  than  themselves  whose  rich  relatives 
wished  to  hide  them  away.  It  is  only  a  surmise; 
but  if  there  had  been  a  case  of  a  child  unaccounted 
for,  which  any  member  of  so  great  a  family  as 
the  Howards  wished  to  keep  dark,  it  would  be  hard 
to  find  a  more  favourable  locality  than  the  little 
almost  inaccessible  hamlet  in  the  Cotswolds.  If 
there  were  such  a  child,  how  easy  it  would  all  have 
been.  When  the  Duke  was  married  he  was  four- 
teen or  perhaps  sixteen  at  most — an  age  which 


though  over-young  for  fatherhood  in  the  case  of 
ordinary  men  seemed  to  offer  to  the  Plantagenet- 
York-Lancaster  blood  no  absolute  difficulty  of 
taking  up  such  responsibility.  As  Elizabeth 
was  only  born  some  two  months  before  the 
Duke's  marriage  there  was  not  any  time  to 
spare — a  fact  which  would  doubtless  have  been 
used  to  his  advantage  if  Henry's  natural  son  had 
lived.  In  all  probability  Richmond's  marriage  was 
a  part  of  the  plot  for  aggrandisement  of  the  How- 
ards which  began  with  the  unscrupulous  securing 
by  Surrey  of  the  son  of  Henry  VIII  at  the  cost 
of  his  sister's  honour;  and  ended  with  the  death  of 
Surrey  as  a  traitor — a  doom  which  his  father  only 
escaped  by  the  King  dying  whilst  the  Act  of  At- 
tainder was  lying  ready  for  his  signature.  If  this 
reasoning  be  correct — though  the  data  on  which  it 
is  founded  be  meagre  and  without  actual  proof — 
as  yet — the  risk  of  Duchess  Mary's  child  born  be- 
fore her  marriage  must  have  been  a  terrible  hazard. 
On  one  side  perhaps  the  most  powerful  sceptre  in 
the  world  as  guerdon;  on  the  other  death  and  ruin 
of  the  child  on  which  such  hopes  were  built.  No 
wonder  then  that  Duchess  Mary  "almost  fainted" 
when  in  the  early  dawn  the  King's  Commissioners 
conveyed  to  her  the  broad  object  of  their  com- 
ing. No  wonder  that  freed  by  larger  knowledge 
from  the  worst  apprehension  which  could  be  for 
her,  she  announced  her  willingness  to  conceal  noth- 
ing that  she  knew.     That  promise  could  not  and 


would  not  have  been  made  had  the  whole  range  of 
possibilities,  which  as  yet  no  one  suspected,  been 
opened  to  their  investigation.  For  even  beyond 
the  concern  which  she  felt  from  the  arbitrary  power 
of  the  King  and  at  the  remorseless  grip  of  the  law, 
she  had  reason  to  doubt  her  own  kin — the  nearest 
of  them — in  such  a  struggle  as  was  going  on 
around  them  when  the  whole  of  the  Empire,  the 
Kingdom  of  England,  France  and  Spain,  and  the 
Papacy  were  close  to  the  melting-pot.  It  would 
have  been  but  a  poor  look-out  for  a  youth  of  a 
little  more  than  a  dozen  years  of  age  had  fate  made 
him  the  shuttlecock  of  such  strenuous  players  who 
did  not  hold  "fair  play"  as  a  primary  rule  of  the 
game  in  which  they  were  engaged. 

In  his  Life  of  Elizabeth,  Gregario  Leti  concludes 
a  panegyric  on  the  Queen's  beauty  with  the  follow- 
ing: "This  was  accompanied  by  such  inward  quali- 
ties that  those  who  knew  her  were  accustomed  to 
say  that  heaven  had  given  her  such  rare  qualities 
that  she  was  doubtless  reserved  for  some  great  work 
in  the  world."  The  Italian  historian  perhaps 
"builded  better  than  he  knew,"  for  whether  the 
phrase  applies  to  the  one  who  is  supposed  to  have 
occupied  the  throne  or  one  who  did  so  occupy  it, 
it  is  equally  true.  The  world  at  that  crisis  wanted 
just  such  an  one  as  Elizabeth.  All  honour  to  her 
whosoever  she  may  have  been,  boy  or  girl  matters 


Alcacer-el-Kebir,  battle  of,  20- 
22,  25. 

Ahasuerus,   111-114. 

Alvares,  Matheus,  23. 

Althotas,  82. 

Ascham,  Roger,  letters  of  con- 
cerning Elizabeth,  316-318. 

Ashley,  Mrs.  Catherine,  284,  285, 
298,"  315,  321,  323,  324. 

Austin,  "Beau,"  murder  of  by 
John  Law,  124,  134. 

Balsamo,    Joseph,   early   life    of, 

Bank   of  England,   early  history 

of,  140-142. 
Banque  Generale,  founding  of  by 

John  Law,  126. 
Banque    Royale,    control    of    by 

John  Law,  127,  130. 
Berners  Street  Hoax,  252-254. 
Beugnot,    Cointe    de,    description 

of  Cagliostro  by,  86,  87. 
Bingham,    Jinny,    Mother    Red- 

Cap,  186-189. 
Bisley,  286-291,  294. 
Bisley  Boy,  The,  283-345. 
Bisley    Tradition,    The,    291-294, 

Bogus  Sausages,  260-262. 
Brinvilliers,  Marquis  de,  169-172. 
Brunneau,  Mathurin,  40^-1. 
Buried  Treasure  Hoax,  The,  258- 


Cagliostro,  career  of,  80-94. 

Castro,  Don  John  de,  prophecy 
of  concerning  Sebastian,  24, 
visit   of   to   impostor,   26-27. 

Cat  Hoax,  The,  255. 

Catizzone,  Marco  Tullio,  27,  28, 

Catherine,  Empress,  34. 

Caule,  Rev.  John,  denunciation  of 
Matthew  Hopkins  by,  197-198. 

Chevalier  d'Eon,  career  of,  269- 

Compagnie  des  Indes,  controlled 
by  John  Law,  127,  130. 

Cork,  Simnel  and  Warbeck  fa- 
vored by,  8-9. 

Cumberland,  Duke  of,  55,  56,  57, 

Croly,  Rev.  George,  author  of 
"Salathiel,"  114-115. 

Czar,  The  False,  31-35. 

Dauphins,  The  False,  36-48. 
Darien  Company,  The,  142-143. 
Dean  Swift's  Hoax,  259-260. 
Dee,   Dr.    John,   career   of,    155- 

East  India  Company,  history  of 
useful   to   John   Law,   138-140. 

East,  Mary,  career  of  as  a  man, 

Edward  IV,  resemblance  of  to 
Perk  in  Warbeck,  7,  11-12. 




Elizabeth,  Queen,  changes  in 
youthful  character  of,  315-316, 
early  life  of  as  concerned  with 
Bisley  tradition,  301-306,  iden- 
tity of,  310-315,  326,  interest 
of  in  Dr.  Dee,  159,  160,  per- 
sonality of,  316-326,  secret  of, 

Feliciana,  Lorenza  de,  wife  of 
Cagliostro,  83-84,  89,  94. 

Flanders,  importance  of  in  15th 
century,  6. 

Fontolive,  personator  of  Dauphin, 

Gordon,  Catherine,  marriage  of  to 
Perkin  Warbeck,   14. 

Hehl,  Father,  controversy  of  with 
Mesmer,  99. 

Henry  VII,  difficulties  of,  3-4, 
measures  of  against  Perkin 
Warbeck,  13-14. 

Henry  VIII,  activities  of,  304- 
307,  309,  desire  of  for  son,  302- 
303,  father  of  Duke  of  Rich- 
mond, 327-329,  mystery  of  at- 
tude  of  toward  Papacy,  336, 
visit    of   to   Bisley,   291-293. 

Herbert,  Henri,  story  of  as  per- 
sonator of  the  Dauphin,  41-46. 

Hervagault,  Jean  Marie,  attempt 
of  to  personate  the  Dauphin, 

Hoaxes,  249-265. 

Hoaxed  Burglars,  260. 

Hohenheim,  Theophrastus  Bom- 
bast von,  real  name  of  Para- 
celsus, early  life  of,  72-75. 

Hook,  Theodore,  252,  254. 

Hopkins,  Matthew,  career  of  as 
witch-finder,   190-198. 

James    IV,   belief   of   in    Perkin 

Warbeck,  13. 
Joinville,    Prince    de,    settlement 

of  Eleazar  Williams'  claim  by, 


Kelley,  Sir  Edward,  career  of, 
175-181,  friendship  of  with  Dr. 
Dee,   161-163. 

Kenealy,  Dr.,  course  of  as  coun- 
sel for  Tichborne  Claimant, 

"King  of  Penemacor,"  22-23. 

"Knight  of  the  Cross,"  23-29. 

Laski,    Palatine    Albert,    interest 

of  in  Dr.  Dee  and  Sir  Edward 

Kelley,   161,   178-179. 
Law,  John,  career  and  character 

of,  123-144. 
Louis    XV,    friendliness    of    for 

Chevalier  d'Eon,  270,  271,  273, 

Louis  XVII,  36. 
Locke,    Richard    Adams,    author 

of  Moon  Hoax,  265. 
Luie,     Jean,     testimony     of     for 

Tichborne  Claimant,  221-2-2-2. 

Margaret,  Duchess  of  Burgundy, 
interest  of  in  Perkin  Warbeck, 

Marie  Antoinette,  90-93. 

Marriage  Hoax,  The,  257. 

Maupin,  Mile,  de,  career  of,  235- 

Mesmer,  Frederic-Antoine,  career 
of,  95-103. 

Military  Review,  The,  256. 

Mississippi  Scheme,  The,  forma- 
tion of  by  John  Law,  126, 
growth  and  collapse  of,  127- 



Mother  Damnable,  story  of,  182- 

Mother  Black-Cap,  182,  183,  185. 

Mother  Red-Cap,  182,  183,  186. 

Moon  Hoax,  The,  262-265. 

Morocco,  invasion  of  by  Sebas- 
tian, 19-21. 

Motte,  Madame  de  la,  plot  of 
concerning  Queen's  Necklace, 

Mueley  Abd-el-Mulek,  20-21. 

Naundorf,  attempt  of  to  person- 
ate the  Dauphin,  46. 

Orton,  Arthur,  career  of  as  Tich- 
borne  Claimant,  201,  214-224. 

Paracelsus,  career  of,  71-79. 
Paradis,   Mile.,   controversy   over 

as  patient  of  Mesmer,  100-101. 
Paris,    Matthew,    credibility    of, 

108-111,   117-118,   narrative   of 

concerning      Wandering      Jew, 

Parr,  Queen  Catherine,  306,  308, 

309,  312,  315,  323,  324,  325. 
Parry,  Thomas,  284,  285,  298,  315, 

321,  323. 
Persat,   attempt   of  to   personate 

the  Dauphin,  40. 
Pucci,    Francis,    combination    of 

with  Sir  Edward   Kelley,  179. 

Richard  III,  consequences  of  law- 
less acts  of,  3-4. 

Richmond,  Duke  of,  life  of  as  a 
natural  son  of  Henry  VIII, 
326-332,  341. 

Richmond,  Duchess  of,  334-335, 

Rohan,  Cardinal  Prince  de,  91- 

Ryves,  Mrs.  A.  T.,  49,  law-suit 
of  attacking  succession  to  Eng- 
lish throne,  58-67. 

Stephen,  King  of  Poland,  inter- 
est of  in  Dr.  Dee,.  179. 

Snell,  Hannah,  career  of  as  sol- 
dier  and   sailor,   231-234. 

Tichborne    Claimant,    The,    201- 

Tichborne  Case,  trial  of,  218-223. 
Tichborne,  Baronetcy  of,  252. 
Tichborne,    Lady    Mabell,    doom 

foretold   by,   203-204. 
Tichborne,    Lady,    belief    of    in 

-son's  existence,  213-214. 
Tichborne,  Roger,  206-212. 
Toil-Gate  Hoax,  The,  256-257. 

Voison,  Madame,  career  of,  164- 

Walpole,  Horace,  theory  of  con- 
cerning  Perkin   Warbeck,   8. 

Wandering  Jew,  The,  107-120. 

Warbeck,  Perkin,  career  of,  5-15. 

Werbecque,  Jehan,  5-6. 

Westphalus,  statements  of  con- 
cerning Wandering  Jew,  113, 

Williams,  Eleazar,  story  of  as 
personator  of  the  Dauphin,  46- 

Wilmot,  James,  50,  51,  53,  54. 

Wilmot,  Olive,  50,  55. 

Witchcraft,  147-198,  English 
statutes  concerning,   147-148. 

Women,  attempts  of  to  disguise 
themselves  as  men,  227-231. 






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